Action-packed

Hello All

I love a bookend and who can deny that a few days that start with Vikings and end with Vikings are a good thing?…ok…ok….Franks….Anglo-Saxons….Celts…..

It appears Kirkstall Abbey was ready to let bygones be bygones

And happily allowed a Viking village to be pitched outside the Nave.

The Norse looked friendly enough but the re-enactors from Ormsheim Vikings showed us their more unapproachable side too

The smiley devils!

Set inside and around the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall Festival was in full swing with choirs, hawks, stalls, ponies and dogs on show when we gathered en familie for a marvellous day in the sunshine. Peanut had a particularly good time being borne on Uncle D’s shoulders to watch dancers in the nave and later racing around the cloisters to the music of the wonderful Otley Ukulele Orchestra.

After all that excitement a genteel woman of Cumbria was just what I needed and last Wednesday JG and me continued our progress around the Women of Cumbria exhibitions with a return visit to The Ruskin Museum in Coniston for the small display on Elizabeth Smith (1776 – 1806).

Miss Smith is a rather elusive figure aptly described by twentieth century Lakeland poet Norman Nicholson in 1953 as:

A shadowy form … a ghost even when she was alive…’

Although she had an extraordinary talent for languages – she was fluent in French, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew – and was a geometrician, musician and poet it was her early death that aroused the interest of the Lakeland literati, especially DeQuincey (that well known self-confessed opium eater) rather than her accomplishments in life.

Elizabeth died of consumption living her last few weeks in a tent that her father had put up in order that she could breath more easily and enjoy the glorious views of Coniston. Yet even in death she seems to have just melted away.

To me she is an icon of the many similarly gifted women of her time who were invisible. She left me a little heavy hearted for all the talented women who have vanished from our consciousness.

Ready for a gear change? After the peace and wistfulness of Elizabeth Smith I was whisked away on Saturday by No1 Daughter to London for a fabulous Animals Asia Bear-B-Q right in the heart of the busy city.

Organised by fantastic Animals Asia supporter Sarah D on the roof terrace of Knight Frank at 55 Baker Street the event was a huge success. Sarah D is an absolute powerhouse of a woman with such compassion and commitment to the Animals Asia cause. Big thanks Sarah and to your wing-man Ray.

The setting was wonderful (as were the raffle prizes)

The food was the very best vegan food I have ever tasted (the veggie option looked scrumptious too).

And Animals Asia ace ambassador actor (who knew I could get so many A’s in a phrase) Peter Egan was super lovely – as were the chefs he’s standing with…did I mention that food…?

It was a day spent with some of the most amazing passionate people I have ever met. Everyone friendly, chatty and interesting. It was also a day that allowed me a proud mum moment. Well done No1 Daughter!

London was hot hot hot so it was a relief to return up North and enjoy a quiet Sunday sitting in a local nature reserve for a relaxing picnic organised by No1 ‘son-in-law’. Thanks RP.

Looking at the colour of the grass it is not only London that has been a tad warm!

Yesterday and flowers from friends herald

The arrival of another birthday! It really doesn’t seem like a year ago that I hit that significant 60. Eeeeek. Luckily before I could get too maudlin No 1 Daughter and Peanut lifted my day.

First we stocked up on goodies for lunch from The Garden Vegan Take-Away here in sunny Kendal.

Amazing victuals – pasties, salads, sandwiches, wraps – perfect for a happy day spent wandering the grounds of my favourite haunt Levens Hall. Peanut was in her element exploring and running around the gardens (a real must see if you are in this neck of the woods, the gardens that is not the running..).

Going …

Going …

Gone!

She humoured her Omi with a sedate walk around the cottage garden.

She was captivated by the blooms (it could also be the path, she has a penchant for gravel!)

And was fascinated by the squashes and courgettes.

What a fabulous day we had.

As for those Vikings! No1 Son knows me well ….

Until next we meet,

Moke x

Bags are packed

Hello All

All packed and ready to go

I have been on one of my regular jaunts to Yorkshire to see No 1 Daughter and little granddaughter Peanut.

I have configured what for me is the perfect route. Now this is not for those that want to get anywhere fast. In fact it is definitely one for the proponents of slow living and those that enjoy the journey more than the destination. All aboard.

As with most of my journeys this one starts with a bus. On this occasion the 555 traveling towards Lancaster easily caught from the end of the road. Apologies if you get travel sickness but here is a snippet of what I can see atop the double decker as it bumps its way between Milnethorpe and Holme crossing the River Bela. GCW grab your paper bag.

I show you this particular section of my trip because in a way this is where all my journeys start. See those low buildings just before we cross the river? They are on the site of a World War Two prisoner of war camp. This is were my father spent his first weeks in Britain.

And while we are traveling memory lane, anyone a fan of ‘Brief Encounter’? Here is it’s iconic location and the next stage in my travels, Carnforth Station.

Which comes complete – thanks to the magic of movies – with its own heritage centre.

It certainly feels like going back to a time when travel was a more leisurely affair. While there are high speed trains that pass through the station they do so at such speed that they almost whip your eyebrows off. Our transport is a two carriage rickety sort of affair which hopefully will get me to Leeds in time to meet No 1 for lunch.

Fast(ish) forward a couple of hours. Hey not so presto and here we are in Leeds basking in the city sunshine and enjoying an al fresco lunch at Bill’s.

Complete with complimentary Pimms.

Well while I am out of my normal comfort zone I might as well go all the way. Thanks to a gift from a friend – GCW got your head out of that bucket yet? – No 1 and I were off to enjoy a hand and arm massage at the freshly fragranced Jo Malone emporium of scented delights. All kinds of ungents were laid before us.

What to choose? Hanging on just about to my old hippy credentials I went for something earthy ‘Oud and Bergamot ‘. Oud ? I hear you ask. Or at least I hope you do because I did. Oud – I was reliably informed by the helpful assistant – is a resin that forms in trees. On further research (wonderful thing this interweb) I discovered that this type of resin is particular to the tropical agar tree. Well you learn something new ….

Funny how you often meet woolly people isn’t it? Turned out the young lady expertly lathering our arms with all kinds of wonderfulness

is about to become a fashion student in London and she creates artwork using yarn. Hopefully she is reading this and will be soon letting us know all about her Etsy shop. Good luck with your studies and your modern twist on wool craft. Can’t wait to see it.

Gloriously perfumed we made a quick dash to Leeds station and boarded the 5 o’clock commuter train to No1’s village. No 1 frequently averted her eyes/exclaimed/pretended she wasn’t with me as I swung my new backbag over my shoulders with such gusto that I should really travel with a Government Health Warning. But we couldn’t be late.

This little bundle of impish joy was waiting to see us.

Doesn’t she just wear the look that says “Get me. I have just graduated from the Baby Room. I am officially a toddler. Watch out world”?

It’s great being a Grandma (Omi) and even better when despite a few weeks apart your granddaughter immediately recognises you with cries of “Ommmmmeeeeee “, hugs, kisses and an introduction to all the toys in nursery.

Back home No 1 gets little one safely strapped into her carrier and we are off for an early evening walk to the river with their two hounds G (the Chihuahua) and B (a rescued Pooley cross). Now that’s what I call getting a wiggle on.

Oh the wonders of modern technology. Anyone else remember the delights of the Box Brownie?

Turns out this was quite a doggy weekend. No 1 was off first thing to help set up the village dog show while Peanut and I enjoyed a gentle start to the day watching the Jungle Book … amazing how you remember all the songs. If I say so myself I do a mean impression of Balloo the bear … I was never destined to be cool nor glamorous… you guessed? however did you do that?

After a lie down to recover from an over energetic rendition of “I want to be like you” we took the newest of No1’s doggy additions with us to spend the afternoon at the Dog Show. So many marvellous dogs so many waggy tails and what dog show would be complete without terrier racing?! The idea is that the terriers race to the end of the course and through the hole in the centre of the hay bales. Some of them had other ideas and the chaos at the end. Hilarious.

B was an absolute star. Despite a rough start in life he was as good as gold enjoying meeting new friends and even having a go at sausage bobbing. Well done to the new pup on the block.

Too soon the time came to return home. Armed with a new book to read – very promising – thanks to No1’s partner RP I was again packed and ready to leave.

One quick look at the roundel I made for Peanut’s door as bright and jolly as ever.

Then back home for work and next weekend’s crafting to build up a range of samples…more on that then.

And that was where I was going to end today’s post but life is full of little surprises. I had just said my goodbyes to No 1 Daughter and Peanut and walked to my platform at Skipton. I was thinking that there were a lot of folk awaiting the Morecombe train when this reminder of another era chugged into the station.

And revealed itself to be the world famous.

Who’d have thunk?!

Now unless anything else happens ….

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Mother and Daughter Day

Hello All

As you know my two little birds have both grown and flown. Independently of one another No 1 Daughter and No 1 Son have fluttered their way to Leeds in West Yorkshire – thank goodness we are Cumbrians and not Lancastrians! – and made their homes in this stunning city.

Yesterday instead of traveling North to Carlisle I waited on the opposite platform to travel south then east to meet up with my girl S and spend a day in her new home town. First port of call Giraffe  for some veggie breakfast, a superb pot of tea and a mother-daughter natter and discussion about what to do with the rest of the day. Leeds’ Giraffe is situated in the new Trinity Centre on Albion Street. While I am not the world’s biggest fan of large shopping centres I have to confess Trinity is beautifully laid out with some airy and light architectural touches, DSCI0269

striking sculpture DSCI0269

and opportunities for small independent traders….more of that later.

I love the broad pedestrianized streets of this northern city especially those that run between the stylish and sophisticated arcades of the Victoria Quarter which I am amazed to discover were designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham.

A few years ago I went on a tour of the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas on the Isle of Man which is a Frank Matcham designed theatre. It was a fascinating insight into the work of this prodigious architect. I couldn’t believe his work stretched to shopping malls..

On this occasion however we were too distracted by the colourful Andean musicians even to notice Mr. Matcham’s ornate constructions. 10494659_10152163450342073_7075608135986980595_n

They sounded as good as they looked.

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No 1 daughter and her boyfriend R live in one of the new developments along the canal which meant a very picturesque walk to their city centre home

and a pretty little bridge adorned by the latest trend in affirmations of endearment.

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This is what I love about urban living. Being able to walk to everything you need! Leeds is a city surrounded by easily reachable beautiful countryside yet living in the centre you can also access so much by foot. Theatres, cinemas, community venues and of course cafes and shops are all on your doorstep. S has joined many great groups – the Women’s Institute is one of them….that’s my girl…. – and can see opportunities for starting up her own hobby and community initiatives using local independent cafes as venues. All without hopping in the car. It makes my heart sing. Oops eulogy over.

Having had time-out to play with S and R’s characterful – for characterful read he pee’d on my foot – little dog, George. S and I went off to our main venue for the day the Thackray Medical Museum which is next to St James’ Hospital (gulp).photo11

In the recent past I made a visit to The Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh with my latin-learning friend AH. I am not particularly squeamish but even I suffered a loss of appetite after peering at the HUGE and gruesomely fascinating collection of pathological anatomy held there.

I was therefore a little hesitant about repeating the experience too soon. But I needn’t have worried for although the Thackray unavoidably conveys our grisly medical past it does so through narratives based on the lives of a number of Victorian characters and their medical conditions. Where the Surgeons’ Hall appeals to adult academic interest the Thackray  is very hands on, smelly (Victorian streets definitely whiffed) and family friendly. S and I had a great time, and while there were no children present enjoyed ourselves having a go at checking our reflexes (mine non-existent) and finding out about why people trump! Notably we both scuttled quickly past archive footage of a poor soul having their foot amputated….

Thankfully we were not put off our food. Despite carefully following the dietary tract journey of a pea (it takes 24 hours in case you were wondering) we sought out tea and returned to Trinity Kitchen. Here miraculously parked amongst the restaurants are a clutch of independently owned caravans and campers there on 4-week pitches selling scrumptious edibles. Remember I mentioned eons ago when I started this blog that the Trinity Shopping Centre gave scope to independent outlets?

We opted for Vietnamese street food photo13

made by the lovely enthusiastic Emily Boothroyd. Emily told us about her travels around Vietnam where she picked up her passion for the country and its cuisine. Our spicy blackbean tofu and aubergine banh mi(s) were succulent and tasty. A perfect end to a lovely day.

And on that happy note I will leave you until next we meet. Moke.

Nice things happen

Even in very sad times nice things happen it’s just that it is easy to miss or forget them. I’ve looked back through my photos and here are some of the pleasant things that have happened over the last few weeks.

I had a lovely if wet day walking around Carlisle to search out the areas where I would like to live (there were many).

In addition there were jolly murals,

a reminder of Carlisle’s Roman past, DSCN0864

a market hall, DSCN0860

and somewhere to buy very good tea! DSCN0874

I like Carlisle (perhaps you’ve noticed) and I look forward to making my home there.

Nonetheless Kendal will always remain close to my heart. Many of my best friends live here and it holds some exciting events. The newest of which is the International Comic Arts Festival. Thanks to friends PG and CS I was lucky enough to go to a talk by the wonderful artist and observer of modern manners Posy Simmonds. She was hugely entertaining but also gave a real insight into her work (Life with the Webers, Gemma Bovary and Tamara Drewe).

Finally much looked forward to was a visit to Leeds to see my son. Although we talk every week it has still been months since I last saw him so it was a treat to travel with my daughter and her boyfriend to enjoy a family get together. Of course lunch was a must. For my son this is just a snack…

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I had also forgotten what a marvelous city Leeds is. On past visits it has appeared at times to be a big building site this time with many of those new builds completed it was a rather beautiful combination of old and new.

And now? Time to look forward and create anew while keeping fond memories alive with just a little wooly project….