Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunday 18th September, 2016 - Kendal to Manchester

A leisurely start to our day which was needed & enjoyed, a scrumptious breakfast was served, lovely music in the background as we chatted like old friends - how spoilt are we, but loving it as well.  I took a wander around Shelia & Will's fabulous garden, snapped off a few photos during my wander. Their garden is in decline as Autumn arrives, while mine at home will be the emerging from our winter.

But, all good things must come to an end.  We knew we had a couple of hours drive to get down to Manchester to drop the rental at the airport.  We enjoyed coffee and flapjacks outside in one of their creative garden rooms before sadly saying our farewells.

Sheila & Will have unselfishly given up a couple of their days to show us around their beautiful area.  We enjoyed the slower pace after being constantly on the go for so many weeks. 

We relied on "Ella on the Dash" for this journey - made our way onto the M6, OMG the pace quickened considerable, but Doug handled the pressure really well.  (He doesn't like the left lane much!!)  All was going well, until we reached or neared Manchester, then holy hell - roundabout, exits, entries, over-bridges, a right tangle it was.  Thank goodness for "Ella on the Dash", we would never have done it without her.  Some white knuckles and tense shoulders, but the airport we did find, and then the rental car drop off (nearly missed that one).  Phew, high fives then unpacked the car, found the shuttle bus to take us to the actual terminal.  That done, we then walked along the sky-bridge (amazing thing, which can be seen in the photo of Doug looking out the window) to our Radisson Blue Hotel room for the night.

I had been in touch with Sylvia (an Irish physio that I had worked with some 15 years previous) who now lived in Manchester.  We met in the hotel, and chatted away in one of the bars.  Now married with two beautiful daughters, she was just the same. Really great to see her again, all thanks to Facebook!!  Our meeting wasn't long enough, but the girls had school in the morning.

We treated ourselves to a flash dinner in the dining room, before getting ourselves organised for the flight to Pisa and beyond the next morning.

After being treated to a scrumptious breakfast,
I took a wander around Shelia & Wills gorgeous garden.

The silver fern flag fluttering in the breeze.  

Before we hit the road, we enjoyed a coffee,
 the company, lovely surroundings,
 and Sheila's fabulous flapjacks

Radisson Blue Hotel, Doug looking down onto the airport
 car park. The Sky Walk from airport to Hotel can be seen here.

A great catch up with Sylvia after 15 years, the only difference
(apart from the years) was that we both drank coke, 

without additives !!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Saturday 17th September - Blipmeet @ Windermere, Kendal, Arnside

Click on the photo if you want to see it larger.

Another special day, a day where we had the pleasure of meeting a lot of blippers, both old and new!

The morning dawned with beautiful clear skies.  We said our farewells to our wonderful hosts at Cumbria House, such a lovely young couple, then had a quick browse at the Saturday Market in Keswick. We knew that we needed to be at Windermere's Foot Fell Park, for the blip meet at 11am.

We wanted to visit Castlerigg Stone Circle, but had trouble finding the turnoff, we asked a local who was very helpful.  All this took up valuable time, by the time we found it there was very little parking available which meant of course that the place would have been overrun by people.  Looking at the watch, we decided we would have to give it a miss and continued on our journey south to Windermere.  A very scenic area, driving along the edge of the lakes, through little villages....lots of ooo's and arrrr's, but no time for stopping.

We became a little anxious as this trip was taking longer than we though, we arrived late for the gathering.  Gordon & Will were hovering in the car park waiting for us, and Wendy & Ann (who we had dinner with last night) arrived at much the same time.  What a welcome we got, it was so exciting to meet folk that I had been following for so many years, as well as the newer blippers.  I think there were 16 of us, with no shortage of conversation.  It was great to catch up with Liz who I had the pleasure of meeting at home a few times (along with her sister), Liz has since moved back to the UK. We enjoyed a coffee as we chatted, then we all took a wander along the lake shore to the top (or was it the bottom) of the lake - absolutely gorgeous photographic place Paula & Shelia had chosen.  Tree covered hills, beautiful water, boats reflected in the water, families, dogs, walkers - but room for us all.
Of course, the blip meet photo's had to be taken, (see below).

A memorable time, and my thanks go to Paula, Gordon, Sheila & Will (who we had met when they visited our area a couple of years previous) for the effort they put in to make this event happen.  Sadly, all good things have to come to an end though.

From there we were in the hands of Sheila & Will. We headed for their home in Kendal, situated on a hill overlooking a green area, they have a gorgeous garden, divided loosely into rooms.  And would you know it, on the flag pole was the silver fern fluttering in the breeze, how about that!!  
Enjoyed a beautiful lunch outside before setting off (via the scenic route) to the village of Arnside on the Kent Estuary.  What a wonderful place this is, we walked along the shoreline, then up a hill, through a little field where we saw some Red Emerald butterfly's - bonus!  Back down to the village to "the local" for a beer, sitting outside in the late afternoon sunshine.

We have been thoroughly spoilt again; a wonderful dinner was served,  a wine or two and great conversation.

Cumbria House, our Keswick BnB

Keswick Saturday Market

Beautiful and luscious fruits and vegetables

Blipmeet - it looks as if Tony is about to sock a fist into Doug
- let me assure you it didn't happen!!

Ann,Wendy and Tony

Shelia & Will devising a plan maybe??

The beautiful Windermere

Sisters Liz & Andrea 

Blippers from left -
Will, Gordon, Wendy, Shelia, Me, Paula, Rose, Ros, Trevor, Liz, Wendy, Andrea & dog Chloe

Blippers & partners -
Will, Gordon, Wendy, Shelia, Paula, Rob, Ros, Rose,
Trevor, Wendy, Andrea, Doug, me, Ann, Liz,
At front - Chloe and Tony

A view of Windermere, our get together was near where the boats can be seen
Here & below are sections of Sheila & Will's garden, beautiful and interesting.

The drive to Arnside - this valley is very wet, needing lots of drainage 

The village of Arnside - sunny, warm & attractive

The pretty Red Admiral

Our hosts - the lovely Sheila & Will

The railway bridge over the Kent Estuary

Kent Estuary

Will with the NZ Highlanders flag - ready for the day they win again

For our benefit - how cool is that :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Friday 16th September, 2016 - Keswick

Our BnB (Cumbria House) is superb - we both had a great sleep and down for breakfast at 8 am (as is usual for us).  
We spent some time sorting out cases and leaflets that we have collected over the previous weeks.  Some serious biffing to the bin followed.  Good job done:) 

We had a walk along the cobbled pedestrian area, lots of folk about, lots of dogs too; this is a popular area for walking and tramping, walking poles seem to be a popular accessory for both young and old.  Had lunch sitting outside, there are dogs everywhere and allowed in cafes and bars. We had to be alert as the places put out water bowls for the pooches.

After lunch we went on a tiki, a route that Gordon had suggested to us yesterday.  Thoroughly enjoyed the experience, a passing shower made it a bit gloomy for a while.  We headed for the hills over a pass, magnificent views at the top.  Doug spied a waterfall and suggested a walk.  That we did, following a goat track about three quarters up.  It then became a scramble, that's when we decided enough was enough and descended back to the car.  A different breed of sheep here, recently been shorn.

We had made arrangements earlier to meet Wendy and Ann for dinner, they chose a Tapas place, we sat out the back where the light was better (old & blind) and enjoyed the food and chatting with them both.  Lovely and friendly ladies.  

Not a late night, as we knew we would meet up with both of them tomorrow at the Blip meet which has been arranged for us.

Wendy (left) and Ann 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thursday 15th September - Dufton to Keswick

We have had such a wonderful day - full of exciting things.

But before that, a delicious breakfast was served - lovely fruits, yogurt and selections of cereals. Followed by Gordon's specialty of scrambled eggs with salmon - another delicious.

We called in to meet Sue & Graham at their art studio - both of them blippers (although Graham not so now) - was wonderful to meet them and see their incredible photography displayed.  A purchase of some cards which I may put on the wall :) 

Then  the Lanercost Priory for a coffee and a wander, wonderfully warm and able to sit outside.
We set off to view and maybe walk a little of Hadrian's Wall - travelling through the Pennine Hills.  A hazy day, but that didn't matter at all.  We walked through some fields (paddocks), down and there is always an up!!  It was very hot and muggy......struggled at times, but we took it easy.  The wall we saw and stood on and meandered through and over remains of a Roman settlement. Incredible to try and imagine their life with so many hardships. The wall itself was so sturdy, wide with incredible stonework.  No wonder it has lasted the centuries.  We treated ourselves to an ice cream, a much needed reviver!

Paula and Gordon drove us back through a scenic route, again the haze was about, but we still saw the closer landscapes.  Up to the top of the Pennines and we could only imagine the spectacular views.

We were dropped back to the Art Studio we had visited earlier in the day to collect our car.  Our grateful thanks to Paula and Gordon who had given up their day to show us this part of their patch,  said our farewells then we drove off into the sunset and Keswick & Derewentwater. The light was amazing as we drove west and I managed a few photos at the lake before finding our Cumbria House BnB.  And what a welcome we got there too. 

We skipped dinner, had a cup of tea and a biscuit.

A walk around Paula's garden - their hydrangea flowerettes are huge

I couldn't resist this beautiful pooch

The heating system (we thought)

Beautiful Derewentwater