A weekend at home…

Richard is ‘working’ in a posh castle near Barcelona at the moment, so I’ve spent the weekend visiting friends and relatives and errr… running.

On Saturday our family came together to give my grandfather the final hardcopies of his memoirs. This might not be the last you hear about this because he tells us that he has started writing the sequel!

Our Grandad signing copies of his memoirs

We celebrated in style with a black forest gateaux that I made the evening before. It was delicious! Kirsch-flavoured cream is just fabulous!

Black forest gateaux

On Sunday morning I ran off the calories around Tamworth and then visited friends in Shropshire.

Not too many other exciting pictures from the weekend, so I’ve added some pictures from the garden. It’s looking nice at the moment and the veggies are super productive. It’s only a small space, but we’ve found space for peas, french beans, mange tout, cougettes, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, aubergines, little gem lettuces, rocket, leeks, pak choi, rhubarb, gooseberries, squash, raspberries, plums, sunflowers and potatoes…. plus the gravel area is now covered in alpine plants, including alpine strawberries!

The cat belongs to our next door neighbour, but he spends most of his time meowing at our patio door 🙂

A busy weekend

My working weeks have been reduced to 3 and 4 days alternately and last week was my first 3-day week – followed by a 4-day weekend 🙂 🙂 .

Thursday saw Ian and me visiting Sally and Steve. Although we did get gin and tonic we also found ourselves helping to slash and burn some woodland (Pete, you missed a power tool opportunity).

Sal and Anna getting smoky

On Friday we went to Newcastle so that Ian could be fitted with a penguin suit for his role as best man at a wedding down south (no, not that wedding). No photos of the fitting but watch this space for pics of the real thing in a couple of weeks’ time. 🙂

I took the chance to see the John Martin exhibition at the Laing art gallery, which was excellent. When he paints fire (e.g., in The Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah) I swear you can feel the heat, and when he paints lightning you can hear the thunderclaps.

Sunday saw a more common event – another road race:

The T shirt

Although St George’s Day is 23rd, because it falls on Easter weekend this festval is being observed on 2 May. Nevertheless the race was held on 15th and there were dragons, St George’s cross flags and so on in plenty.

St George
Rod, the organiser

I was pleased to reach my target of 50 minutes, cutting my time over the route by 4 mins 23. It was a bit disappointing that Ian came in only a minute or so behind, making me wonder whether training on whisky and secret chocolate bars is something I should try.

Saturday evening saw us meeting our sailing friends Wayne and Deb at the Royal Windermere Yacht Club for dinner again. We were all gutted that pavlova was not on the menu as the chef does a great one.

Coming in to land after winning yet another RS400 race

Sunday brought the first assault of the year on the garden, helped by various pets.

Hoppy and Andromeda in a cold frame: a battle of wills

After this another run along the river between Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck, and back again, with Sarah, then all three of us joined Andy and Sabiene for lovely food and DVDs – including the recent blockbusters “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and that must-see: The Antarctic Painting DVD.

All in all, if not an adventurous, a packed and sociable weekend. How did I ever find the time to work five days a week??

Portugal 2010

Sorry this is a bit late, we have been back 2 weeks. However, at one point we thought we might not get to Portugal at all because we landed – after a couple of attempts – during a hurricane. The weather did not improve all that much but we had a lovely time staying with Jim, Flo and Bela (cat). They live on a steep hill in northern Portugal and have a huge garden in which they grow lots of fruit and veges. We particularly enjoyed picking the oranges to squeeze for our breakfast juice.

Jim's garden

Basically we sat about and allowed Jim to feed us with his produce.
Among other things Jim has just made 250 litres of wine from his grapes – self-trodden!

Jim's wine casks

Whilst Ian and I managed only one run during the week (excuse: the hills were very steep whichever way you went), we all did quite a lot of walking around various historic towns which I really enjoyed. I was even allowed to go shopping in Braga. Very many baroque churches, lots of riverside strolls, local markets and even visits to the odd cafe for coffee and cake.

We even visited a couple of local climbing areas, which reminded us of the Australian Grampians: giant heaps of huge boulders.

Garden review

With Richard away in California, I had a very sociable weekend involving loads of people coming around and lots of nice food. I even spared time for a steady 18.5 miles on Sunday morning which involved the second running of the the Four Counties run, this time with Mark.

Given that the only real adventure was running into an invisible electric fence, I decided that a review of the garden was in order. This is timely because in the last couple of weeks the garden has started to look past its best with autumn on it’s way. I have therefore put together a selection of pictures taken over the summer.

The veggies have been amazing this year thanks to the horse muck I dug in during the winter. We have been supplied with runner beans, squash, courgette, carrots, spinach, rhubarb, cucumber and potatoes throughout the summer. The tomatoes have faired less well, but not through lack of care. Notice the squash in the bottom left picture that decided to grow over our gravel alpine garden!

We now have loads of green tomato and also beetroot chutney too… yum!

Our flowers have also been beautiful. The alpine flowers looked amazing in the spring and the petunias in the hanging basket have been no less than stunning the whole summer.

Felicity the frog has also enjoyed the garden and we hope she returns next year 🙂

Blog Rendezvous?

A Damp Start…
Despite six months of notice and lots of positive votes for all sorts of activities support for this year’s rendezvous dropped off severely. Was it because of the weather? Not sure really – more likely just a lack of enthusiasm and commitment! 😥

Anyhow, Saturday started dry albeit very grey and overcast. So we took the opportunity to quickly (Huh? Two hours later!) cut the grass and harvest a bumper crop of red currants (another two hours of tedious work).

However, even with all that gardening there was still time to get the mountain bikes out before the Rendezvous-proper kicked off… Ah, the benefit of living in one of Lakeland’s best mountain biking valleys! 😛 Although by now the rain had arrived and we spent the whole journey in the rain. 😳

Kentmere Mountain Biking

Rendezvous?
Not much of a rendezvous! :angry: The second blogger’s rendezvous was very poorly attended – only the uber keen Rachel & Richard joined us. 🙁 That said, clearly word had got out, even Alan Hinkes had heard it was the event of the year and made an appearance… Oh OK, he was here to enjoy himself like everyone else at the growing Staveley Beer Festival. How much bigger will it get? We wondered if in years to come if it might becomes the South Lakes ‘Glastonbury’!

Alan, Rachel, Richard, and Laetitia

We enjoyed some Manuka Beer inspired by a recipe from New Zealand, Richard’s homeland…

The Manuka Beer site seems to be offline, so here’s some background:

Manuka Beer was brewed for the first time as long as 200 years ago. The sailors under Captain James Cook, British explorer, seafarer, and cartographer, were the first to taste manuka beer, made from the leaves of the manuka plant or the New Zealand ‘tea tree’. They were introduced to the plant by New Zealand’s indigenous population, the Maori, who for countless generations had used the manuka plant as a medicinal herb both on its own or added to their cooking. Today, manuka honey is known for it’s wholesome, health giving qualities due to its high concentration of natural antioxidants which protect the body from negative outside influences.

Staveley Beer Festival

The festival was quite lively despite the now drizzly rain…

Sunday
Sunday’s weather turned out much better than Saturday (as forecast) and Rachel wanted to get out rock climbing – well that’s my favourite activity, so it was game on! 😀 The old reliable Shepherds Crag was selected…

Rachel on the fine fingery Creeping Jesus (HVS)

Tree planting, a pub crawl, dinner with friends and a mountain marathon

Saturday was ‘Tree o’clock‘ day, a world record attempt to plant the largest number of trees in the UK in a 1 hr period. My friends at work, Jenny and Gemma had organised the planting of 50 free trees provided by the council. So, on Saturday between the hours of 11 and noon, 13 of us planted the 50 trees, which ended with tea and biscuits!

Rich planting tree

Rich and sarah

tea

From tree planting we socialised with Sarah, my sister, she had come to watch the planting and browse in the shop at work.

After lunch with Sarah, we made our way to Ilkeston to meet up with some of my old running club friends. We arrived at Catherine and Tony’s house, pre-pub crawl, and were told that they were going out dressed in “school uniforms”! Within about 5 minutes we were kitted out similarly. As we walked to the first of 5 pubs, we realised that the whole dressing up thing was just something that Tony had decided that morning and that nobody else would be dressed up! Some of our friends appeared to notice, but most just took it in there stride. The point of the pub crawl I think was to drink real ale … I haven’t liked this stuff previously because it’s too bitter, but actually the stuff I had was nice…

At about 6.30, Tony disappeared to put dinner in the oven and after another pub, Richard, Catherine and I made our way home. It was raining, we were all wearing trainers and we had drunk a fair amount, so we ran back to Catherine’s (probably a couple of miles), which was the perfect end to an amusing pub crawl (but probably only something that we would do). Tony had a lovely roast dinner ready on our arrival. 🙂

Sunday was the second Dark and White Mini Mountain Marathon – a 3 hr score (I guess you know what this means by now) from Hayfield. It was raining when we started and during parts of the event, but the views were stunning. We hadn’t been in this area very many times and hence it was interesting to see Kinder from the opposite side. Kinder Downfall looked awesome from the bottom with masses of water flowing over it. I scored equal points to the first lady, although as my time was 4 minutes longer (2hr58 vs. 2hr54), I think I probably came second. Richard was first M40 and 2nd overall. The final race is in January, so 1st place will be my target, as for Richard … he’s still deciding whether to be in the M40 or open class! We retired to the pub and then home. An early night I think.

Thanks to Jen for the pics – sorry we were a bit slack with the camera for the rest of the weekend.