Keswick

The weather has become colder and today I had a few jobs to do before leaving to go south and then fly to Spain on Friday.

First, a quick trip to the post office.

It was not, in fact, a quick trip. It took over an hour thanks to me not reading the instructions properly on the stickers I had to fill in and having to re-line-up several times. Oh well!

Still, a literal weight was lifted when I passed it all over the bench and I went off to the museum.

The Keswick museum is small but contains some very interesting items.

Birds’ eggs. Very pretty!

A little tree hung with people’s methods of getting through lockdown.

And a giant musical instrument that was like a xylophone but made of pieces of slate. They had buttons in the display that you could press to hear the music, which was surprisingly ethereal.

Next I was going to buy myself a pair of hideous but comfortable hiking sandals (Spain being a lot warmer than Cumbria) and I like to think I succeeded and then some.

They fit perfectly, why do they look so huge? Like I’m about to go snorkeling.

I stopped in at the Oxfam shop too. No matter where you go in the UK there seems to be a plethora of second hand clothing shops.

I was excited to find a copy of The Idler, a book-style magazine that was the forerunner of one of my favourite books ‘How To Be Idle’. The magazine is full of articles on idleness. I’m generally a busy person and I live a busy life, but after I read this book years ago (and got two of my book clubs to read it, with mixed results) I re-examined my attitude to life. I make more time to do nothing now. I used to love doing nothing when I was a child, pottering around, or even just staring into space. Now I don’t feel guilty if I do nothing at times.

Anyhow, the magazine serves two purposes. First, I can read it, and second, I can cut it up to make some mail art. A few years ago my friend Fish and I did a collage course at a library. It was fun to just mess around with shapes and images. I thought I might make something to send to Kat, a friend of mine who loves getting things in the mail. Let me know when it arrives, Kat!

So I later spent several happy hours in the lounge of the B&B being creative, using receipts and fliers and bits and pieces I’ve collected in the last week to make a little fold-up collage that I could send tomorrow. As I was sitting there I wished it would rain and then it started raining, how lucky is that?

Other than that, I bought some insanely-priced hiking socks and a couple of tiny bottles of the other Kin vodka flavours so I could try them while I was here. A little toast to the first chapter of my journey ending and being such a success.

Wintercrag Farm

From Askham I booked two nights at Wintercrag Farm (a name that sounds very Game of Thrones, I think you’ll agree) in Martindale. As far as I can tell, Martindale comprises of four buildings and two of them are farms and two of them are churches. I can’t tell if this means the original locals were extremely pious or hated each other so much they couldn’t worship in the same building. Either way, both churches are now disused.

The house sits just over a little beck with a lovely view down the valley.

The farmers breed dogs, mainly collies, kelpie/collie mixes and terriers. I’ve seen a few of the farm dogs around but the breeding dogs are in a shed so I haven’t seen them as yet. I feel kind of bad about asking, knowing how busy farmers are, but I also really want to see them.

I had to carry all my food with me as there no shops at all within easy walking distance, so I’ve been mainly living on porridge, tomatoes, apples, cheese and flatbread. I did buy myself one treat in Pooley Bridge.

Locally made, absolutely delicious!

It’s only a small bottle (500ml) probably a bit too much to drink in only two nights but I’m willing to make that sacrifice. The man in the shop said it was perfect for drinking straight and he was right!

The rental accommodation at the farm is the entire upstairs. There are three bedrooms but I’m the only person here so I got to pick my own room.

I chose the one with the stag theme.
Wallpaper close-up.

There is a kitchen and bathroom, which are nice to have to myself. When we renovated our home we got rid of our bathtub, but I’ve had nothing but baths since I got here, they’re so nice after a long day walking.

The only negative thing I have to say about the place is the way the floors creak. There is not a spot on the entire second floor that doesn’t creak like something out of a horror movie. I mentioned it to the owner but she said they don’t notice it. If it was me downstairs I’d go mad within hours.

Also, the carpet is quite something.

This morning I had a cup of porridge then set out up the fell at the back of the farm. It was a bit precipitous in places but I made it up to the first hill reasonably easily. Some thoughtful person had put a bench in a nice spot and I paused to enjoy the weather.

I then followed the ridge along a bit, stopping to talk to a man who was walking with his dog. It turned out he was from Askham, which was quite a coincidence, seeing as there wouldn’t be more than 200 people living there and he was the first person I’d spoken to since I left Askham, apart from the people at the farm.

He was very nice but told me he was 85 then proceeded to climb up and out of sight so quickly that I felt quite demoralised. Being almost 50, I don’t mind being overtaken by people under the age of 60, 70 at a stretch, but 85 is just ridiculous. Anyhow, I clambered up over rocks and along narrow paths but eventually decided it was too steep and turned around and went back down.

Looking back.

I quite like a bit of scrambling, but not when there is a steep drop right beside me. Better safe than sorry!

I made it back to the farmhouse for lunch then a nap that was supposed to be an hour long but was more like three. I think yesterday’s hike with my full backpack had been more exhausting than I’d realised and I also felt like I was getting a bit of a cold.

In the afternoon I walked across the road and up the hill a little, watching the farm dogs herd the sheep down from the fells (there’s a video on my instagram if anyone is interested: zenandtheart is my username), then I took a walk down the floor of the valley along the road. I saw some sheep with their lambs in a barn and lots of very picturesque buildings.

For dinner I made my two minute noodles (apparently they are THREE minute noodles in the uk, ick) with a sachet of tuna, cherry tomatoes and chopped up cheddar (gourmet!) and afterwards I finished off the vodka. It’s only 20% so it was like having about 3 glasses of wine but the wine was like the caramel sauce you put on ice cream when you were a kid. After a while it was a bit too sweet but I bravely managed to finish it all.

May I share my trick for having a nice cold drink in an Airbnb with no ice tray? Just fill several glasses with about a centimetre of water, freeze them when you first arrive and voila! Iced beverages. I did chill the vodka too, but I wanted to drink it slowly.

Tomorrow I’m going to walk to Patterdale, which is about eight km/five miles, and hope there’s room in the YHA. If there isn’t maybe I’ll suck it up and actually do some camping!

Luke told me two things today, one is that I make a lot of typos in the blog, which I hope you’ll all write off as jet lag and not me being too lazy to edit, or worse, not knowing how to spell or construct a sentence! Also that at least one person from his work has been reading the blog, so hi to Luke’s workmate! I hope you’re enjoying it, I’m sure it’ll be more interesting once Luke starts contributing too.

Goodnight!

This is Winnie, I have no idea what kind of dog she is but she hugs my leg then closes her eyes and leans on me.
The working dogs are a lot less interested in pats.

Here Comes The Planet 69 – Split and Hvar (2018)

We visit the Croatian town of Split and its nearby island Hvar.

More info about Pičigin

Interesting articles about cruise ships in Dubrovnik:
(1) Crowds and cruise ships have ‘ruined’ Dubrovnik
(2) Has Dubrovnik solved the problem of overcrowding from cruise ships?

Click here to read Amanda’s entry about this part of our trip!

Cambridge: Gardens, Churches and the Beer Festival

I’ve made an effort to see a few things that I didn’t do when I lived in Cambridge. So before I get into the Beer Festival here’s a couple of things I did when I wasn’t taking advantage of Andrew’s washing machine, tv and couch.

Kings College Chapel

Despite the fact that this is one of Cambridge’s most iconic buildings I didn’t even consider going in until one of my co-workers, Tim, came here a few years ago and I saw pictures of the inside.

It’s £9 to have a wander around. There are side rooms with informative displays but the main attraction is the long room and it’s astonishing fan ceiling.

The big dark thing in the middle of the first photo is an oak room divider that was donated by Henry VIII. I think it’s awful but my opinion seems to be in the minority. It houses the pipe organ and keeps the riff raff in the back half of the chapel out of sight.

When visiting these kinds of edifices it always pays to look for amusement in the small details.

I don’t know what led up to this scene, but this guy’s thinking ‘I have made a terrible mistake.’

This guy looks like the textbook definition of ‘chief executor’. Or possibly ‘grand vizier’ .

The Cambridge University Botanical Gardens

I wandered down here before our first Beer Festival session. Beautiful.

The gardens were much bigger than I expected and full of students, draped like cats over every available sunny bench and table.

The gardens have lots of ‘rooms’, as well as actual rooms in glasshouses. All are well-labeled and interesting.

The chronological bed was a concept I’d never seen in any other gardens.

I had two favourite parts to the gardens. The first was the lovely scented garden, which is a bit hard to share on a blog page.

The second was the way that grass/meadow plants had been left to grow into islands and borders around perfectly manicured lawns. The contrast of soft meadow and smooth green was delightful. Also difficult to really convey in photos but you’ll just have to trust me.

I sat for a while and read my book – Great Expectations. If anyone had told me how funny Charles Dickens was I would’ve read it years ago. Although perhaps I wouldn’t have appreciated it then? Who knows.

The 45th Annual Cambridge Beer Festival

One of the longest-running beer festivals in the UK (and probably the world.. outside Germany maybe?) it is put on by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale society, who are a group that works hard to promote small scale brewers and keep traditional English Pubs out of the hands of criminals who gut the insides and replace all the dark wood with IKEA pine board or worse – turn them into offices.

The Cambridge Beer Festival is no small deal. It runs for six days, two sessions a day (12-3 then 5-11) and costs £3 to get in (per session), unless you’re a CAMRA member, which costs £20 per year and gives free entry to all their events.

I attenedd the festival with Andrew, who is thrilled to have my company.

This year we’re here on Tuesday evening and then both sessions Wednesday as I’m off to Belfast on Thursday.

I decided to approach my cider and perry choices this year (beer is revolting) in the same way I choose horses at the races – amusing names.

So far I’ve had ciders called ‘Virgin on the Ridiculous’, ‘Weasel’s Wevenge’ and ‘Monk and Disorderly’. I also tried one called ‘Ghandi’s Flip Flop’ but it was revolting.

Of course it’s not all about drinking. There’s an outstanding cheese counter too.

And don’t forget the pork pies. There’s also terrific curries, roasts and fish and chips.

Could anything be more British?

We were even first in line on Wednesday – and what a line it was.

If you’re ever in Cambridge at the end of May, and particularly when the sun is shining, I highly recommend going, it’s a great day (or six) out.

Here Comes The Planet 54 – Tanzania 07

In this episode of Here Comes The Planet we take a cultural tour around Mto wa Mbu Village in Tanzania. This consists of walking through the village’s farms and sampling an amazing array of delicious food, learning about the village’s history and entertaining its children.

We also watched some local artists at work, sampled banana beer and found the village nightclub!

Also – DISCO TOTO!!!