30 March 2016

Wonderful Wednesday... 3

Wonderful Wednesday number 3 already! These little mid week posts are such a treat to put together.
They also save my blog from a particularly spare posting month, hehe!

So here's my round up of positivity for the week...

1. Mud. 'Mud mud glorious mud.' I love being muddy! Well I love being muddy when I am dressed appropriately for being muddy! hehe. If say, I was to get splashed with mud or fell in a muddy swamp on route to work in nice work clothes, done hair and make up on I probably wouldn't be too impressed! But when I'm in 'outdoor' clothes and biking or walking then getting muddy is just super fun. I did a mud obstacle race last year for the simple reason I wanted to play in all the mud. Squeezing through tunnels filled with mud, wading in thigh deep thick mud, unimaginable fun! Splashing through muddy puddles on my bike, wizzing super fast coming home splattered right up to my face, yes please! It's just child like and silly... When else in adult life is it acceptable really to splash in muddy puddles ? I am sure Freud would have something to say about this one... hehe!

2. My Bike. I am probably cheating here with my top 3 being all quite similar. But you see I went to Whinlatter over the long weekend to play on my mountain bike.  Really this makes me insanely happy and puts the biggest smile on my face that it deserves 3 separate listings in my happy list. I've always felt 'right' on a bike, it's a vehicle that stays on the ground (mostly!) and I have complete control without the aid of scary motors and buttons and other bits and bobs. Sitting on my bike is my happy place wherever that may be. The whole world, all my cares and worries melt away as I peddle peddle peddle....

3. Whinlatter Forest Altura Red South Loop. Whinlatter Forest near Keswick, Cumbria is one of the best trail centres for mountain biking in the country, it is my local forest and a place I have been to literally countless times. Still every time a trip is suggested I get SO excited. I love mountain biking but I am not the most adventurous when it comes to downhill, especially downhill I don't know very well. But I have wizzed down the bottom section of red south SO many times me and my bike know every corner, twist and turn. It is the one route I can just let go (even let up of the brakes a bit! eeek!) I do scarier bits of that trail that would freak me out in other places, but it is MY trail. I know it, I am confident I can do it well and it is just the ultimate fun! And they just recently refurbished the trail, I didn't think it was possible to improve on such perfection, but it is smoother and faster... and when I burst down that last little slope with the widest grin on my face, the first thing that crossed my mind on Monday was 'OMG I want to do that again....' 

4. Car Shopping. Well yes, a little spoiler for my forthcoming 'March in review' post, but I might have been car shopping. It was a teeny bit stressful and I fretted quite a bit over it. It's a LOT of money and buying a car means I will actually have to drive the thing. But choosing my car and looking at colours and imagining driving it has all been super fun. I might introduce you to my little car in a forthcoming post... 

5. Spring Cleaning. I spent a good couple of days over this long Easter weekend spring cleaning. Yes absolutely gutting my entire flat. Going through every drawer, shelf and cupboard and just simply chucking things away that I no longer had a use for or no longer loved. It's funny the little treasures Ive kept over the years that meant so much to me in younger years I really don't have much feeling for now as a 'proper' adult. (I say this in '' because at my age one ought to be a 'proper' adult, but I don't really consider myself that! hehe). I am tidying and sorting in anticipation of moving and because clutter and stuff make me stressed. It feels so nice and makes me feel so much lighter to have a good sort out.

6. My diary. I love my diary, it's a Kikki K Cute Planner, I blogged about it here... I love to feel organised and be able to plan things and write lists and goals etc. One of my very favourite things to do on a Sunday evening is get out my diary, get out my HUGE box of sticky notes, stickers, cute pens, washi tapes and motivational quite cards (oh yes!!) and plan my diary for the week. I love sticking in cute stickers on to days when I am doing something fun. I put in little reminders for fortchcoming events, birthdays and trips away planned. Honestly if I get no time for this little ritual before Monday starts I feel like the whole week is just a blurry mess and I can't cope! hehe.

7. Chats with my sister. I actually hate chatting on the phone! It feels a bit odd really doesn't it. You don't get eye contact so sometimes things are misread and then silences are just quite awkward! I used to chat on the phone endlessly in my teens but now I much prefer to do all my communication via text! hehe. No really, face to face for catch ups with friends is always preferable. But the one exception to my phone phobia is my sister. She's probably the only person I think to ring regularly just for chats. I feels a bit odd going any length of time without speaking to her. We chatted this week for about 40 minutes just about nothing in particular... and it felt like no time had passed at all.

8. The Queen. Probably a bit of an odd one, and maybe a controversial one. But I LOVE The Queen and the royal family and anything to do with royalty and residences and the history etc. This week The Queen at 90 TV programme was on ITV, a whole 2 hours of blissful TV viewing! I'm fascinated by anything to do with royalty and I feel that teeny extra bit 'closer' to all the stuff as I used to work for The Queen when I lived in London.  It's really nostalgic for me to see Buckingham Palace and see familiar staff faces on screen etc. It was a fantastic time working for the Royal Household, something I will always treasure.

9. Going the extra mile. There are always things at work that get passed about from person to person and nobody feels like it's 'their job', do you get that where you work? I HATE that mentality! We all work for the same place... blah blah blah... but this week myself and a colleague went the extra mile (many in my case a very long day and 7 separate vehicles to get there and back!) and it was WELL worth it! We were meeting a group with an interest in the history of one of our uni campuses and they were just lovely, so grateful and interested and it just made me super happy that we could do this for them.

10. Skinny Lister. A recent band discovery that are just SO good! We went to see Frank Turner (who I just LOVE love love!) last year and the support band was Skinny Lister, neither Mark or I had heard of them before. But we were SO impressed. They were so lively and energetic on stage and their songs were just well fun and catchy. Mark bought a CD at the gig and he's been listening to it loads in the car. So I've popped a few of their songs on my walking to work playlist and I find myself skipping to these songs. A lovely mix of catchy, fun tunes and just super pretty lovely melodies. There is one song in particular that you should listen to 'Plough and Orian', a beautiful song, the lyrics are just lovely. Oh and another very fave 'Kite Song'. I love this band now, and every time their songs come on in my earphones they also make me think of Mark too.

I would love to hear your Wonderful Wednesdays in the comments or tweet me @Jo_TPHPBlog #WonderfulWednesday 

Check out what Wonderful Wednesday gang are up to this week.... Check out Sally, Michelle, Kate, Helen and Cat.

24 March 2016

Almost up Scafell Pike...

So this past weekend we spent time in the wonderful Borrowdale valley in Cumbria. You can see my post here all about where we stayed.

On Sunday Mark and I decided to be adventurous and climb Scafell Pike. You may have heard of this mountain, it being England's highest and all! A perfect one to start me off this type of walking! lol! I do a lot of walking but not really a lot of walking up mountains (I prefer riding up them on my bike!) but I was excited to take on the challenge.

The walk was beautiful starting off. We went the more challenging way setting off from Seathwaite and the little farm. You then follow the lovely river as it slowly climbs up towards a cute old stone bridge.

At the bridge you then pass through a gate in the wall and you have two choices, up a ridiculously steep path ahead and to the right or follow the wall and river to the left.

We went up the ridiculously steep path up to the right... and I am SO glad we did... The path was really well marked and kept, it was more like just climbing stairs, a lot of stairs! But I found it no bother at all going up this side.

A beautiful view behind us down back into Seathwaite as we climbed up and up...

I didn't expect the path to be so clearly marked out, it was a really good path.

Posing on another little bridge...

A lovely sweaty selfie after making it up to the top of the first steep bit!

The best bit about going up this way, well the best bit of the whole walk for me was this view... Styhead Tarn, it was beautiful. Such an awesome place, so calm... I would love to come back here in summer and camp and swim!

I couldn't stop snapping this beautiful place. It's so funny to think when you look up at the mountains that these beautiful tarns and flat bits exist up there.

The next bit of the path got steep again as we went round the end of the tarn and up.

At the top though was another tarn, this one is Sprinkling tarn, not quite as pretty as Styhead in my opinion, but the duck seems to like it!

At the top of this section it began to get a bit colder and there was snow on the ground.

Once we went up further there was a LOT of snow! It was about 2 feet when you put the stick in, or fell through! But it wasn't fresh beautiful fluffy snow, it had obviously been there a while and was rather icy and slippy so not a lot of fun to walk on.

I must admit I got a bit nervous and anxious as we reached this point. The path had vanished due to the snow and we couldn't figure out the best route, the snow and ice were very slippy and I didn't enjoy walking on them, so I wasn't sure I wanted to carry on.

We got to the top of Ill Cragg (I believe it was!?) and we looked over and Scafell Pike summit was about 20 minutes away! But to get there you had to go down and then back up again and the whole way was thick ice.  At this point I decided to give up.  A little disappointing not to reach the final summit but the sensible decision I feel.

For my first proper mountain walk in a long while I was pleased with how far I reached. I was getting a bit anxious and I just knew I would get worse if we carried on. I'm fine and happy walking, and will go fell walking as long as I don't have to scramble, climb up ice or go on any steep edges where you can fall off! The actual hours of walking upwards are no bother and I think I am fit enough to tackle these I just don't want to be scared of falling off!

Google the likes of Sharp Edge or Striding Edge to see what I am most afraid of! These are both in the lakes, but not this mountain. But I would never do anything like these!!! Not in a million years. I get dizzy when I'm up high and trying to negotiate a thin edge, NO!

So the only way really to get back down all that snow and ice was on our bums! Mark went first and I followed, it's just sledging without the sledge really! haha. Wet, cold bums were a LOT of fun on the walk back to the car. hehe.

Back down we go....

So we went back down a slightly different way. Remember I said at the beginning at the bridge you had two choices, well we came back along that other path. I must admit I didn't love the top of this other path, it was pretty steep and right on the edge of a sheer drop. I was a lot happier once it flattened out and there wasn't so much a risk of death falling off the side.

The river all the way along had such pretty pools! It would be fab in summer to stop here for a paddle.

So if I were to do it again I would go up and back down the Styhead Tarn route and tackle Scafell summit on warmer weather when there won't be any ice. I believe when there isn't ice it is a good path all the way, and no steep sides to fall off so I am confident I can do it if we try again.
I'm super pleased with my fitbit stats for the weekend though. Almost 30 miles of walking, not bad at all. The left hand side is Saturday, this was a longer walk slightly but a lot flatter, look at the number of floors it thinks I climbed on Sunday, 257! hehe.

Have you been up Scafell Pike? Which mountain in the lakes should I tackle next?

23 March 2016

Wonderful Wednesday... 2

It's time for my second Wonderful Wednesday post. I loved writing this for the very first time last week and I got some lovely comments too, thank you! 

I've been keeping a little list in my phone this week of those little things that have made me smile, ready for this wee post. Focusing on positive things is really easy once you get started, the more positive thoughts in your head the less room for the negative ones, that's how I see it any way.

So here is my little list of the things that made me smile this week...

1. A lunch hour with my mum. I recently changed working locations to near the city centre. I used to be 5 minutes walk from my flat and five minutes walk in the other direction to mum and dad's house. I used to therefore go to mum and dad's house regularly for lunch. Now as I don't work near it is harder to fit in time to pop in and see them. This week I asked mum to meet me in town for a wander round the shops in my lunch hour, it was lovely. Something nice to look forward to and break up the dreary work day. I hope to do this more regularly.

2. Spring lambs. I spent lots of time in the beautiful countryside this weekend and one of the most fantastic views at this time of year is of course the glimpse of a spring lamb! I get so excited when I see lambs and I could literally watch them jumping and frolicking all day.

3. Styhead Tarn. This place just wow! We did a big epic walk this weekend up to Scafell Pike (tallest mountain in England no less) and on the way we walked past Styhead Tarn and I couldn't believe how beautiful it was there. We had set out early so not many people around (but it can get VERY popular!) it was a perfect blue sky day and the water was so calm. It can only be described as tranquil. Mark said, whenever you are having a stressful day you just need to remember that this is here, unchanged, calm, tranquil, beautiful and it will make everything ok. This is SO true. A fantastic place to visualise during meditation. (That's what my photo is of by the way!)

4. Podcasts. A new very favourite thing to do is listen to podcasts when I walk to work. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I don't listen to anything at all, but other times when I need a bit of a pick me up I listen to motivational podcasts. If you have an iPhone, its super easy to listen on your phone, there's even a built in app, who knew! (am I just really new to this party?) anywho, some of my faves include - Happier with Gretchen Rubin (love Gretchen Rubin!), Radio Headspace and Blogtacular.

5. Being outside. As I mentioned above I had a fantastic weekend. I spent 2 nights 2 days in the spectacular Borrowdale Valley in Cumbria camping and walking. Even though this place is no more than an hour from home, even though it is familiar to me and we were not there very long, the sheer simple fact of spending this much time outdoors in the beautiful surroundings (the good weather helps too) puts an insanely large smile on my face! I tried to focus on being in the moment and soaking in every tiny bit of it.

6. Being switched off. This goes in hand with number 5. I love my phone, I'm as addicted as everyone else, it is always by my side and I must pick it up several hundred times a day. But I also love being without it. There was no internet, no telephone signal, not much of anything where we were staying. My phone came with me but just as a camera. I love this feeling of not having the need to check my phone and living and enjoying my life rather than scrolling through pictures of someone else's.

7. Raspberries. Well who would of guessed I would be a Raspberry person? Not I! I've always been a strawberry person, what could be more delicious? A very favourite healthy treat is a big bowl of strawberries smothered with low fat yoghurt. Tesco were out of strawberries though... so I reluctantly went with the rasberry option. I've never been sure about the texture of them, and that hole... well any little beasty could be living in there quite frankly! But I braved them, and my oh my, SO much more flavour than my usual strawberries. I think I have been converted!

8. Cumbria. I had to leave our fair county this week for work, just for the day, so not too bad. But on the way back on the train it hit my just quite how superior Cumbria is to anywhere else ever. You hit the county and the landscape changes, the dramatic fells come into view, the grass is greener and I feel at home. I had such a fantastic weekend exploring places in my county I've never been before, seeing sights I'd never imagined and looking down on familiar views from way way up high. A whole new county (to me) exists above the clouds and it such an adventure discovering it all.

9. Nashville. No not the city, although something tells me I'd love it there too, and would be very happy to visit! But I'm talking here the TV show. I adore this programme. I have a list (yes I know I'm very sad) of TV shows to keep up to date with on my IMDB account. And out of this list Nashville is by far my very very favourite to watch, the first one I go to when there are lots of new episodes of lots of things. It has to be up there on my very faves of all time. It's about country music, I never even thought I liked country music! I was so happy to see its return this week with a new season. You MUST check it out if you have not watched it yet...

10. Help from my Dad. My dad is very clever and good at you know dad stuff! So I am moving house soon (eek!) and I bought a rather large, very red chest of drawers a while back. They are ever so useful and I really want to bring them with me when I move but I just don't love them or think they will go with the decor in my new room. I had an idea to paint them a lovely pastel yellow. I asked my Dad if he might want to paint them for me (as he would make a FAR better job than me!). I popped round to mum and dad's last night, and wondered if he might have started sanding them... no, they were sitting in the driveway all finished a lovely shade of pastelly yellow (the paint is called Happy Yellow! - and it CERTAINLY is just that!) Dad did such a good job. I LOVE them now, not only are they Happy Yellow but my daddy painted them for me so they will be extra special.

So what's been making you smile this week? Drop our little gang a tweet with the #WonderfulWednesday hashtag, or leave a comment below.

Do check out the rest of the Wonderful Wednesday gang to see what's putting a smile on their lovely faces this week... Sally, Kate, Michelle and Helen.

21 March 2016

Return to Tilly's Barn

This past weekend Mark and I made a return to one of our favourite places, Tilly's Barn in Borrowdale, Cumbria. We have stayed at the barn before, a couple of years ago, in rather more dreary weather. That post, with interior pics, can be seen here.

This time around we invited a different bunch of people, and it worked out great! The Friday night Sarah (Mark's sister) and Neil joined us and the second night my sister Jen, and Phil joined us. It turned out to be a lovely family weekend and it was SO much fun...

Can you spot the teeny tiny Tilly's Barn in the photo here? This photo illustrates why this place is so amazing, look at the surroundings! It's basically in the middle of nowhere, it has no mains electricity and certainly no phone signal, TV or internet. A fantastic place to get away from it all! But having said all that just down the road is a lovely pub and it is just a very short drive into Keswick!
So on Friday afternoon Mark and I made our way there from Carlisle, it is only 1 hour's drive. We unpacked our stuff and got the place ready for our first guests.

We met Sarah, who is Mark's sister, and her boyfriend Neil at the pub, which is about a 15 minute's walk from the barn. They brought along with them another little person, Scruff The Dog!

A lovely evening followed, with yummy food, cooked by Sarah, a few drinks and plenty of board game fun!

Then next day our plan was to meet Jen and Phil at the pub at midday, that gave us the morning to explore a bit and show Neil and Sarah the area.  That's Sarah and Neil, with Mark and Scruff The Dog in the photo.

We walked to Black Moss Pot, which is about 45 minutes walk up the valley, following the beautiful river all the way. Black Moss Pot is a wonderful wild swimming lagoon, I blogged about swimming it here.

Mark suggested that we might want to go and search for the secret cave near Black Moss Pot and pointed to a rather large steep fell...

Mark and Scruff The Dog posing! HOW cute is Scruff? I want one!
The cave is rather a secret, it is set up as a bothy, so a camping place that you just turn up to, you cannot book it. It is kept a secret by those in the know, so I am afraid I won't reveal its location here, but it is near Black Moss pot! Go explore.

It is well worth the climb up! But you have to pluck up some nerve to actually get into the cave through the teeny hole, I didn't go in (wuss!) but the others did, you can see how small it is here, with Sarah and Mark squeezing out. 

We made our way back down the fell, back up the valley and to the Langstrath Country Inn to meet Jen and Phil and they arrived right on time at 12 noon. Who needs mobile phones to make plans! wuhu!

Of course a delicious lunch was consumed in the pub! The food at the Langstrath was amazing! SO good we went back for tea too!

Another walk followed lunch, this time along to the next village of Rosthwaite to join a path to Grange. This is one of my very very favourite walks ever, and one I have blogged numerous times, here it is from the other way...
 We very much enjoyed seeing the new baby lambs in the fields, mega aw!

Scruff The Dog and the boys leading the way...

Dealing well with the tricky obstacles! hehe.

Jen not looking quite so sure!

Aw, I love this photo of the whole gang, and even better I'm not in it! haha. (I MUCH prefer being behind the camera!)

I snapped a lovely one of Jen and Phil.

Phil (and his stick)  admiring the beautiful river.

We couldn't resist snapping this cute little idea for planters!

So we made it to Grange and stopped in the café for desserts and cups of tea. I had an ice cream, yum yum!

We were super lucky with the weather, this valley in Borrowdale is quite literally the wettest recorded place in England, but we didn't see one spot of rain all weekend. Score!

We decided to be lazy and get a bus back along the road to Rosthwaite. But we waited and waited.... and nothing... I don't think these little Lakeland buses stick to a proper timetable!

So back up the road we all walked, it was only a few miles and really you cannot complain about the scenery!

Back at Langstrath we sadly said bye bye to Sarah and Neil and Scruff The Dog, boo! Then we made our way back down the valley to show Jen and Phil the barn.

Dinner was back in the Pub, it was delicious! Jen and I rounded off dinner with more ice cream and crumble.

We got up early the next day and got packed up. Jen and Phil had to get back to Carlisle to pick up James and then back home to Newcastle. Mark and I had more adventures awaiting us (stay tuned for forthcoming blog posts....)

One last look back to old Tilly's Barn as we wandered back up the track home. Bye Tilly's Barn, thanks for having us, you were a lot of fun.  Until next time....