Tuesday 25 December 2018 Beech House – 5.45am Christmas Morning

There will be millions of children lying awake or just waking up as I write these words. Excited, bursting with anticipation of what they will find under the tree when they go downstairs.  Over the weeks and months leading up to today, countless lists will have been written, one by the children asking Santa for all their wishes and dreams, and another by mum or dad, preparing a ‘to do’ list for the perfect day. What groceries will be required? Shall we order a fresh turkey or buy a frozen one? Does everyone like prawns? Note to self: Don’t forget to put the cranberry sauce on the table because you forgot to last year, and importantly, get the spare chairs out of the garage in plenty of time to dust them down. These are the principal, weighty issues, just for this one day.

It seems though at the moment, as a society, certainly in the UK, we don’t talk about these normal happy families. These normal extended groups seem to have been forgotten, replaced by other, diverse minority groups that don’t have a voice either, but even as they become new words in our everyday lexicon, they get huge amounts of column space and air time. Sure, we see the media images in advertising, which now sadly starts at the end of October, encouraging us to buy the latest smartphone for little Johnnie, at only 29.99 per month for the next three years.

Pan into a family of six people sat around a roaring fire, there’s a twinkling tree in the background, a lazy sausage dog in the foreground, and falling snow through a window to the right. They’re unwrapping Christmas presents, smiling, having a wonderful seasonal moment together. Suddenly, the scene comes to life with a multitude of green screen and cartoon graphics.  The Afro-Caribbean grandfather figure, morphs into a lean, mean lycra superhero, who chases and stops a runaway train saving millions of people, and little Johnnie of non-specific ethnicity or obvious gender (so he could be Janie) beams with pride and captures the whole incident on his/her new HD,1000 megapixel phone camera. Which incidentally also has the ability to switch on the central heating from the jungle/arctic circle or driving home from work, at the same time it can play Dad’s favourite song when Johnnie/Janie heads off to Uni and is feeling low.

‘Sold, to the electronic cigarette smoking single mother of four, who goes to the food bank every month’.

For weeks now, in the run-up to Christmas, all the media have been discussing are the estimated 120,000 ‘homeless’ children in the UK. Everyone; charities, social media, and every political party except the one in government have been pulling at the nation’s heartstrings to try to raise awareness. However and more accurately, the children are not technically homeless, they are in rented accommodation rather than in a ‘family’ home over Christmas. Clearly, this isn’t right either but many of them have been in this situation for many years, but at Christmas, it’s more newsworthy and easier to score political points when you are in opposition to her majesties government.

It’s Christmas morning, those millions of excited kids, including the homeless ones, didn’t sleep much last night and are desperate to sneak next door and bounce on mum and dads bed to get permission to go downstairs and see what Santa has brought them. The weeks of preparation and build-up to this one day is over, the adults have done all they can to make it the most memorable family day and the most perfect and enjoyable day of the year. Mainly, they just want everyone to enjoy the atmosphere and appreciate the time with close family and good friends.

So, why am I being such a miserable and cynical old bastard on Christmas morning?

Saturday 25 December 2010

Vicargate – 5.45am Christmas Morning

Overnight, the smell of cooking turkey had slowly drifted upstairs, it’s the Loftus traditional Christmas morning wake-up call. The bird has been in the bottom oven of the aga since 11pm Christmas Eve and will be cooked to perfection when it’s browned off a few hours before lunch. Downstairs, the smell of pine needles and cherry wood logs smouldering on the fire blend with the turkey essence to set the perfect ambience for the perfect Christmas morning.

I didn’t need to peak through the bedroom blinds to see if had been snowing, there’s been a five or six inch covering for days. Snowmen have been built, and the kids have already sledged and snowboarded down the hill from the house to the bottom of the beck that runs between us and the nearest farm, Well House. Olli Strong lives there, one of Dom’s best friends. Besides, it’s pitch black, and there’s no street lighting at Castle Sowerby, but, on a cloudless Christmas Eve night like last night, the clear moon and the millions of stars give a soft cinematic sheen to the ground snow, and on closer inspection of the snow-covered silhouetted trees, the moonlight transforms each one into a crystal chandelier that reflects its glass secrets like a whisky highball left in dining room candlelight.

As they went to bed carrying their pillowcases, the kids left a mince pie and a damson gin for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolph. Reuben had carefully placed them on the hearth next to the log fire, but the dog had eaten the mince pie even before he left the room. As they settled in bed, thinking their private seasonal thoughts, Susan and I quietly brought the boxes of wrapped gifts down from the spare bedroom. Eventually, when the kids were asleep, we stuffed their pillowcases with stocking fillers, and their ‘big’ presents would be left around the tree and added to the ones that had been dropped off by family and friends over the last few days.

The gift opening was now getting progressively later in the morning, Dominic would be 20 in a few weeks, Chloe was 16, and Reuben was 13 a few days ago. It didn’t seem that long ago, that all three of them would burst into our bedroom carrying their pillowcases at 4 or 5am.

I would get endless hours of laughing and paper tearing on the VHS video camera. In 2014, I got 6 or 7 of these tapes, which also included footage of family holidays, parties at Vicargate, weddings scenes, and Christenings, transferred onto DVD.

As I write now on December 25th, 2018,  I still haven’t had the courage to watch any of them. Nonetheless, on Christmas morning 2010 even though all of our children are now in their teens, the anticipation of giving and receiving, and spending the day together, was still as very much a part of the Loftus family Christmas as it was in 1991.

We all came downstairs together. The kettle goes on the aga, a quick rake of the fire, some dry kindling placed on the still glowing embers, and we were in business just as the kettle started to whistle. An hour later, there was a pile of gifts around the feet of everyone, the living room carpet was camouflaged by torn wrapping paper, and without exception, everyone had said, ’Just what I wanted’.

Pan into a family of six people sat around a roaring fire, (Linzi was now living at Vicargate), there’s a twinkling tree in the background, a lazy whippet in the foreground as close to the fire as she can get, and falling snow through French windows to the right.


To start the 6000 calorie intake of this one day, I always cooked smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast served with a glass of champagne. The toast was buttered and cut into tiny triangles and left on a plate in the warming oven while the finishing touches were put to the eggs. As the eggs started to scramble, black pepper and salt were milled into the pan, the chopped salmon was added, and just before serving on the toast, a dash of cognac and a big glug of double cream was stirred in. To be fair to Dom, he ‘fessed up a few years earlier and said he preferred a bacon sandwich with tomato ketchup. Everyone else stuck to the tradition, but I suspect with one eye on Dom’s sandwich.

The rest of Christmas day always played out roughly the same too, Vicargate often also catering for a mixture of Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. After more Christmas gifts were unwrapped, at around 2 or 3 pm depending on how the aga was performing, homemade canopies were served, a turkey and a ham were placed in the centre of the table, pigs in blankets snuggled closely together in the bottom oven, waiting for their moment of glory, and celeriac, mashed potato, cream and garlic, made their annual pilgrimage, to sit next to the little piglets in the bottom oven, also waited for their roll call.  Sat aloof on a cheese board in the pantry, surrounded by his little celery soldiers, green grapes and a green apple waiting to be serrated, stilton knew he was the final, satisfying piece of the Christmas lunch jigsaw.

After lunch, and for the rest of the day, people chatted, sipped wine, dozed, watched a movie, or played games, the more competitive the better. Then, around 8pm someone would whisper, ‘Fried turkey sandwiches’ and it would get louder until I eventually gave in. The turkey came back out of the pantry, and once more the smell of a cooking bird pervaded the house. Dominic preferred his sandwich to be smothered in mayonnaise and this did become the norm for all the younger ones. As the turkey was being cooked, someone would choose a movie to settle down to, the log fire was banked up for the night, and the family stretched out around the living room, a dog or two sat waiting patiently for titbits.


This wasn’t the last time we enjoyed a ‘normal’ family Christmas celebration, but it was the penultimate and a poignant reminder to me of how families should grow and develop as a unit.

Around this time in 2010, we started to think about our children’s future, their careers, university choices, house deposits, and of course the first thoughts about the patter of new little Loftus feet.

As offspring make their own way in society Christmas time is often the only time a family might get together, we’ve been lucky, we were together every Christmas, and 99.99% of the time in between too.

So, Christmas morning 2018, why am I being such a miserable bastard? Apart from the obvious that Dominic is 28 in a few weeks’ time, but he is no longer a part of that happy family scene and the fact that scene hasn’t actually happened for the last six years because of his death. Life has gone on without him and all his friends’ lives are playing out as their parents had dreamed in their houses, on some similar family Christmas morning, as we did,.

This year, we have watched (happily) from the sidelines as one of Dom’s friends bought a house and was married, another fell in love and he and his beautiful girlfriend worked for months on their house, their friends helping out where they could, and they moved in together too. Another became the proud father of a baby boy and also moved into their family home with his girlfriend.

We are delighted that they and their parents have been privileged to progress through life as planned, but in the knowledge that Facebook doesn’t always portray the normal family ups and downs that dictate our lives. The everyday truths that, there could always be a bit more money in the pot, two siblings don’t get on particularly well, how can that be managed come wedding or christening day, or the in-laws have fallen out about the new-borns name, so is the baby going to called David John, or John David?

Thinking ahead, and with my miserable bastard hat still on, will it really matter in ten years’ time when you’re having a meaningful conversation with David/John about gender reassignment?

Friday 3 March 2017 – Sportsman’s Inn

 

Sad LucyThe probation officer rang at 12 o’clock today. You were expecting the call at some point this month, but it still came as a blood-stopping, brain freezing, kick in the groin.

She said, ‘He’s getting released today.’

The memories come wave after wave, and you drown in the pain of them all over again. As you sink below the surface, her voice dims to white noise and you think about revenge for the first time, about taking his life, ending it short like he did to Dominic, but doing it slowly, and very very painfully.

Then, you’re curious how his family might react if he too, left them suddenly.

‘He was a wonderful, thoughtful son,’ they would say. ‘How could someone do this to him?’

Everyone else thought he was a dirt-bag apart from other dirt-bags. He needed killing. But surely, even in their narrow innocent perspective, unwrinkled in their unconditional love and their parental blindness, they should suffer as you have?

It wouldn’t be murder, would it? You could plead insanity, diminished responsibility. It could be viewed as an accident if he was crossing the road at the same time that you were driving past. At speed. Or even better, you could do it under the cover of night time, hiding down a dark alley with a cricket bat. Later, you burn the bloodstained willow on the pub’s open fire, the evidence destroyed.

As if your thoughts couldn’t get any darker, you think about other options, like paying someone. On one hand, that’s probably more dangerous than doing it yourself because now two people would know your plans. However, a professional would be more clinical, less emotional and make fewer mistakes. He or she, if there such a job as assasinette, would be more likely to have the right equipment; a gun with the serial code filed off, a stiletto, or an undetectable poison slipped into a pint at the Station Hotel. This toxin doesn’t have an antidote, but it kills slowly and painfully. All major organs shut down. He bleeds from his ears, his nose, and his arse, Ha! you smile at this method. Yes, he’s fucked and his friends can only watch as he dies very slowly.

After recent events at Kuala Lumpur airport, your contractor might contemplate a VX nerve agent. It was very successful, but the finger was automatically pointed at the leader of North Korea. That wouldn’t do. You would be on the police’s suspect list anyway, you’d at least have a motive. So you would ask the killer to pass on this method, yes it’s deadly, but it would be over too quickly, at least for your liking. Where would he get it anyway, unless he has contacts at the highest level in Pyongyang.

Kim Yong-un is paranoid. He sees his relatives as a threat to his rule, and Kim Yong-nam wasn’t the first of his relatives to be mysteriously killed.

What’s the difference between fratricide, Avunculicide or employing a virucide?  You’re not paranoid and you don’t feel threatened, but at this point, you are contemplating organizing, planning, and hiring someone to do your dirty work.

You think about a ‘no win no fee’ type arrangement like mis-sold PPI. If the terminator can provide proof that the contract is complete such as photos of the dead target in a pool of blood, perhaps a headshot with his testicles in his mouth. Even better still bring his head back on a platter, cash in hand, no questions.

‘He’s under the same bail conditions as before,’ she says rising above the white noise. ‘If I can be of any help, you’ve got my number.’

How the hell can she help when you’re drowning?

’Maybe she can,’ you think as your head pops briefly to the surface. Who’s the most violent, unbalanced, and disturbed person on her probation list? Who does she know that has no remorse and has killed before? She could text you his number.

Then again, he might not be around very long as you dream the ironic dream, start the plan in your head, and Google ‘Assasinette.’

More than a sonnet

 

dom-and-chloe

Before I know it you’re six, missing teeth,

and legs stretching  beyond belief.

I hardly recognise that porcelain face,

that toothless smile seems out of place.

 

What’s happened since Iraq invaded,

a blond, and engaging laugh pervaded,

chattering sibling, fighting for attention,

summer house, a Christmas Child, family perfection?

 

I never seem to find the time,

for important things like nursery rhyme,

double cuddles, tucked up tight,

football, tennis, or your fluttering kite.

 

But, I offer; single occupancy and shoes,

first hand clothes, religion and news.

I’ll also give, hidden culture and Vicargate,

security, I’ll fight naivety and negotiate.

 

Even now, I check to see if you still breath,

I touch your head, extinguish the light, and leave.

No one talks about alcohol.

Tuesday 2nd June 2015

Vicargate –

‘Courage is a peculiar kind of fear’.

Today, for the second time in a few days, you’ve used the phrase ‘There by the grace of God……..’ Your demon, the elephant in the room, blinked, an eyebrow raised. Your illness, takes an embarrassed cough, then confidently announces its presence like a peacock assured of its sexuality, spreading its wings and splashing itself all over Sky News, Twitter, and Facebook and will no doubt be in every UK newspaper tomorrow.

Charles Kennedy, the Ex Liberal Demarcate leader, died today at the age of fifty-five. His disposition, demon, bête noire, and now his executioner: drink. You have long been an admirer of Kennedy but saw the look of alcohol in his face. The tired look, the look that replaced the fresh faced MP of the early 1990’s, puffy blepharitic eyes, and cheeks of excess and late sessions. The look of superior intellect, confused, influenced but contaminated by another, higher in ABV, contributor to his thoughts. Other intellects and academics have argued that they have expanded their thinking by its presence, it might be so but by God Charles could run rings around his political contemporaries, with or without it.

Live hard and die young? But be remembered for your spirited repartee, banter and deep philosophical Claret formed opinion? God, it reads less convincing the next day.

That’s thrice on a page you’ve used the word ‘God’.

It’s a Habit. (And you will come back to God later).

Habit, like arriving home after work, late, having taken 6 hours to drive from London to Penrith, needing the toilet but needing to get home more. Even before the cistern has finished flushing the cork is pulled and the southern levels of stress are subsiding.

‘It’s a school night.’ She says.

‘Yeah, but I’ve been in my car since 5 o’clock and my heads still buzzing.’ You say. The pattern forming habit.

But it was different for Charles, and it’s different for people who do not have control, lost or otherwise.

There is a dichotomy with drinking. You like and enjoy a fine wine, you appreciate its balanced flavours with a meal. You have enjoyed a cognac and a good cigar, and felt the uplift of a Jaegermeister at the end of a long, steep, Austrian red.

But, you’ve also been on your hands and knees in the pantry, consumed with desperation at 2 o’clock in the morning, looking in the cupboard for anything vaguely alcoholic to feed the demon. Then, woken up on the sofa in the half light, the glass half full still in your hand, the demon has shit in your mouth and you despise it, and yourself.

What is the hunger and where does it come from? Why is there a craving to have another drink? Is it liquid armour against the pain, the loss, the regret, the guilt, and the anger? Do you have these emotions even though you haven’t lost anyone and you’re not grieving? It’s too late to ask Charles, so you sit there alone, 1.05am, everyone is in bed. You’ve been drinking for a week without a break, but never during the day time, is that the next step in the race to the bottom?

Charles tried many times to control the demon, and failed. His son came along in 2005 and he was even more determined to give up his addiction, but failed again, permanently.

So God? It’s hard to remember, but you had a life before the 4th October 2013, you had a good life and in this madness you have spoken with ‘God’ to try to help understand where it’s all gone wrong. You had a perfect life; three beautiful children, a beautiful home, a healthy relationship, you have loved each other since you were kids, and you have always had decent, hard-working friends. Many of these things still remain in place, but without Dominic, none of it remains the same, including God, that’s if he ever had a place in your life.

You have always respected friends views and religious beliefs, and respected the church for its general pastoral care, but you have never been a believer of an omniscient being who created life and the earth in a few days. However you do believe in a sincere young man who promoted love, in a hostile world, who encouraged friendship and understanding in a war of cultures, and you believe sincerely, he was killed for his beliefs.

So why do we default to God in times of crisis? Either, asking him to help us out of the crisis, or usually more latterly, blaming him for not helping us and getting us into the
crisis in the first place.

Cumbria Way – Final Say!!

Susan misses Dominic dreadfully, but she hasn’t said much over the last twelve months, in fact publicly she hasn’t said anything. They do say however, that actions speak louder than words, and this walk was a huge challenge and a personal statement for her, for sister Sandy, Lucy and Shorty.

I’ve tried to keep it light hearted over the blog posts, but I’ve seen grown men crying when they arrive at Caldbeck on Day Four. The weather can be very cruel coming over the tops, particularly at this time of year as we head into autumn. So, I can’t say how proud I am of her, and the team’s achievement this last week.

Despite the extra miles clocked up, they still finished on Friday night, and, to press ‘Team Lucy’ have raised £473.18 and still counting. (It’s still not too late to donate!!: http://cumbrianlad.com/whats-going-on.html)

Susan is one of the most driven people I know, and there is no way she wouldn’t have completed this walk even if she had to finish it on her hands and knees, and, it means so much more to her done in Dominic’s name and for the ‘Cumbrian Lad Foundation’ appeal.

CIMG0985
Susan., ‘Right Girls, listen up, have your heard of Lands End to John o’Groats?’

Well done Susan and to the team, and a big thank you to everyone who donated via the website, stopped us on the street with a donation, or popped an envelope into the pub. 

Cumbria Way – Day Five

It’s here, the last day, the final push, the last leg, the remaining 14 miles from Caldbeck to Carlisle!!

But the girls have had a recalculation, there’s still a further 5.8 MILES to catch-up on from Day Four. It’s now a 20 mile (30k) finish for the week!!!  That’s a walk in the park for Lucy, but everyone is worried about Kadie (AKA Shorty), is it a leg to far for the l’arl Sausage?

Hang on, Sainsbury’s isn’t on the OS map for Day Five?Sainsburys

OMG, have they taken another wrong turn?

A quick double check with ‘Team Lucy’ Thankfully no, but it’s a 7am start into Penrith to buy more Blister Plasters!!!

So, at 8.30am the girls start again at Mosedale, where they are joined by ‘Ginny’, Joshua, Janet, and Andrew. CIMG0979They have a gentle walk up the valley and then some Ghyll scrambling up to the lingy hut. This is used as a temporary shelter from the wind or bad weather.

 

 

They find a visitor’s book and leave some comments..

CIMG0987
‘Raison d’être’

CIMG0989

Then, off over to High Pike and the gentle amble down to Nether Row, where they bump into Chris Bonnington on his way up (Really, they did, he lives there)

They arrive at OddFellows Caldbeck, were they pick up ‘Alfie’, Steph and Lindsey. Kadie is starting to flag now, she’s completed about 55 miles (90k) of the 78, so not bad for those shorty legs. But, she’s a trooper, a badger hunter, she marches on.

CIMG0992
Susan, ‘I can smell G & T and it’s coming from over there’ Steph, ‘I’m sure I read on the OS map, ‘If lost, follow the emergency lighting on the floor’ But I can’t see any, can you?’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They follow the River Caldew up through Sedbergham. That leads on then to Dalston.

At the Bridge End Inn, Dalston, there’s a well earned glass of lager, followed by paracetamol and Ibuprofen in preparation for the last few miles into Carlisle. The girls have blisters, left, right and center, but the sun is shining and there’s a warm gentle breeze blowing through the beer garden.

CIMG0999

But disaster strikes!!! Shorty flops over and refuses to budge. At 100k, she’s hit the Dachshund pain barrier.

Between them, the girls carry Kadie on and off for a while, but as darkness falls the rest of the walk is a flat and a smooth cycle path into Carlisle and she’s soon on her feet. But the tarmac path was very tough on the others feet though.

By 7.30pm, they hit the bright city lights and walk

the last few hundred metres…………..CIMG1003

TO THE END

CIMG1010
‘Team Lucy’ still partying at ‘The Sportsman’s’ Halloween Fancy Dress party until midnight!! Sportsman’s Staff left to right: Chloe, Emily, Gabbie and Steph!!!

 

 

 

OR IS IT?

‘Team Lucy’ would like to thank EVERYONE for their support and to all those very kind and generous people who made donations to:

http://cumbrianlad.com/index.html

We haven’t had a final count yet but Lucy has raised over £300 for the charity:

http://cumbrianlad.com/dom-awards.html

THANK YOU!!!

Continue reading

Cumbria Way – Day Three (and Four)

No, I’m not cheating and trying to save space. When all was going so swimmingly well (literally) There was a disaster on Day Three. THE GIRLS GOT LOST!!!

So the days merged into one as they added an extra 10k and 2.5 hours onto the already testing 5 day walk. Thank you to all Lucy’s sponsors, the girls are really giving value for money!!!

But, I blame The National Park with this sign. It’s clearly pointing the wrong way. Susan will be having strong words!

CIMG0887
This way!! on the other hand just keep talking and follow your nose
CIMG0922
If we close our eyes, they might think we’ve not here

DAY THREE. Wednesday did start really well though. The merry band were joined by ‘Gertie’ and Sharon. This morning walk starts in the awesome Langdale Valley as ‘Team Lucy’ heads off behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel into the wide and untouched Mickledon Valley before heading uphill and over the wild Stake Pass route. The path heads round the right hand side of the Hikers Bar and then heads left behind the hotel until it reaches a wooden gateway onto the Mickledon bridleway path. Once through the gate the girls head up the bridleway into the Mickledon Valley. On the right are the steep slopes of Langdale Fell coming down from the Langdale Pikes and to the left is the ridge heading up to Bowfell known as The Band. In the bottom of the valley the Mickledon Beck snakes its way beautifully through the valley floor. At the very far end of the valley at a point where there is a tiny wooden footbridge over Stake Gill tumbling down from Stake Pass.

THAT WAS THE PLAN ANYWAY!

After about 3.5 to 4 hours walking and climbing,  taking in some  great views……..

CIMG0924 CIMG0934 CIMG0926

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

………the sun was shining, the gossip and crack were good, the views were fantastic, what could possibly go wrong?

 

 

 

They reach the top of the fell and turn around to enjoy the view and to admire their successful climb to date. But something didn’t seem right, the view and the pike were exceptional, but something was wrong? 

Rosset Pike
Rossett Pike. Really really nice Fell……., but the wrong one!

To cut the story short, the girls had missed a path that joined the valleys, which is easy done at the best of times as many are not even sign posted . In true pioneering spirit, they circled the wagons (metaphorically) and walked to Grange in Borrowdale and arrived at circa 6/6.30pm in the dark. They then commenced Day Four from Grange in Borrowdale instead of Keswick the following morning.

DAY FOUR. 

The village of Grange is situated at the entrance to the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale‘, where the valley squeezes between Grange Fell and Castle Crag. Bridge at GrangeThe impressive double-arched bridge over the River Derwent was built in 1675, but the hamlet’s origins are much earlier; in medieval times the monks of Furness Abbey occupied and owned most of the land.

CIMG0945

 

 

I don’t think the girls needed a ‘Helping Hand’ but it made a nice photo from Derwentwater!!

This is a good one of Lucy and Shortie. I'll close my eyes again so they can't see me.
This is a good one of Lucy and Shortie. I’ll close my eyes again so they can’t see me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team starts to ascend from Keswick and finally to the top of Latrigg.

CIMG0968 CIMG0969

 

 

 

 

CIMG0971

 

 

 

Great views of the stream from the Valley between Keswick and Threlkeld.

 

 

 

 

CIMG0974

 

 

Then finally the girls moved from Skiddaw House and finished in Mosedale, where they will start DAY FIVE.

 

 

 

It’s 4 o’clock but Lucy hasn’t finished yet……………..

 

Lucy ‘I was just thinking, you know we forgot the dinghy? If I was to collect lots of these sticks, and if someone has packed a ball of string………’

CIMG0898

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Okay okay, I can see that ‘doesn’t float your boat’

‘I’ll stick to sheep then’

Finally, some real work!! Right, how many sheep do you need in here!!!
Finally, some real work!! Right, how many sheep do you need in there!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Cumbria Way – Day Two

Team Lucy’s alarm goes off like clockwork – Tuesday 7.30am.

The rain is bouncing off the windows at The Crown Inn, Coniston. The drops are so big it’s sounds like hailstones.

Outlook is not looking good, both from a weather and a Microsoft point of view.

Sandy opens the curtains onto the high street to…..

Coniston High Street
Double damn, that inflatable dinghy really wouldn’t have taken up much room in Susan’s Rucksack!

And Susan can’t open her email to send your intrepid reporter the photos from Day Two

MS Error Message
Sorry, this is the Lake District, we get breakfast TV at Lunch time, Bill Gates who?

The mood clouds over but Lucy rallies the troops, ‘It’s only 20k, it’s only torrential rain, it’s only a few swans, but it’s the Langdales, it’s the best scenery and the best walking in the Lakes! Come on girls, first stop, Tarn Hows…’

Tarn Hows
Don’t worry, Ian’s got some software, he can airbrush all the raindrops out.
Colwith Force
Colwith Force (Fors/foss is the Old Norse term for waterfall)

 

 

 

 

Next stop is one of the most beautiful scenes between Coniston and Dungeon Ghyll.

 

 

 

 

But today, with all the rainfall the next stop at about 3pm was the most  spectacular and dramatic, and is not normally as forceful as Colwith.

The girls didn’t get to close!!

Skelwith Force
Skelwith Force in full flow
Elterwater Muddy Boots Cafe
Muddy Boots (and soggy dogs) Cafe

 

By 3pm, everyone is soaked to the bone. Even Shorty’s coat is so wet her webbed feet (yes, they really are!) squelch through the grass. And suddenly, there is an oasis in the dark clouds, all their Christmases have come at once. Ok, a little bit of poetic licence, there isn’t a Christmas tree but the fairy lights look festive.

 

 

 

Vicargate 7pm.

The phone rings. Beeb… beeb… beeb… a coin drops. I’m transported back to  the 1970’s.

Susan, ‘Hi, it’s me, we arrived about 6. There’s no mobile service in Dungeon Ghyll but there’s a payphone.’ (that’s like a big red box with a door on it, and there’s a phone inside. You need 10 pence coins to make a call?) ‘Is everything ok?’

Me, ‘Fine, can you send me some photo’s for Day Two?’

Susan, ‘I’ve tried to, but they won’t leave my outbox, it’s really spooky. Do you think email had reached here yet? Haha, joke. Anyway, there’s a guy in the bar, he’s looks like he played bass for Showaddywaddy and he’s drinking snakebite.

Me, ‘Just re-boot your machine, sometimes the router doesn’t pick up Apple devices’

Susan, ‘Ok, I’ll try that. But listen, the menu in the bar is really retro, they’re serving ‘Chicken in a basket’, how cool is that?’……………Beep……………………………………………………………………………………..

‘Hello? Sue??’

Cumbria Way – Day One

Susan came into the bedroom at 8am, gave me a good shake and said ‘We’re off, see you later’ I grunted and turned over. I woke again in a panic as I heard the car heading down the drive. I thought, ‘OMG, I hope they’ve packed the inflatable dinghy,’ but it was too late, they’d gone.

Coniston is the other way girls!!!
Coniston is the other way girls!!!

Always a good sign when everything starts on time. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from ‘Team Lucy’.  However, I was worried. I didn’t get the first update until 15.02. A welcome text from Susan saying ’19k, just at Beacon Tarn. Stopped raining.’

Then a text at 4.10. ‘Just sent you a picture, stepping stones over the River Torver’.

'Damn, knew that inflatable dinghy would have come in handy. Never mind, we did pack the hair dryer and tongs
‘Damn, knew that inflatable dinghy would have come in handy. Never mind, we did pack the hair dryer and tongs

They promised me that they had practiced taking ‘Selfies’ for the Lucy Log, none of that dedicated training seems to have come through yet, but, it is only day 1 and still 4 to go.

Text at 18.20 ‘Just arrived’ (At Coniston)

However, Susan is going to have a serious legal discussion with the ordnance survey map people as her next text said, ‘It was longer than it (O S Map) said. I bet it was 30k!! Oh dear, I wouldn’t like to be on the wrong side of that phone call.

Final communication at 20.13 ‘In bed, everyone crashed!’

However, the reporter never sleeps. I did manage to recover a couple more photos from a very soggy, but rewarding day’s walk

Sandy 'Right, according to the map, it's straight on' Lucy ' I think it's over there' Shorty 'Trust me, it's that way'
Sandy ‘Right, according to the map, it’s straight on’
Lucy ‘ I think it’s over there’
Shorty ‘Trust me, it’s that way’

And finally, a bridge too far and a mist descending over Blawith.

IMG_1316

Blawith
Blawith

Sleep tight ladies and lets have the update for Day Two with a few more ‘Selfies’, Facebook expects, no demands it! However, Paypal doesn’t sleep either, if you feel generous, please donate here; http://cumbrianlad.com/whats-going-on.html