Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Five stars

Just a quickie to say that the Shapeshifters anthology from Fox Pockets has had its first rating on Goodreads - and it's five stars!

I'm delighted, because it's no more than the collection deserves.  I read it from cover to cover and there are some truly exceptional stories in there.

So go on, what are you all waiting for?  ;)

Sunday, March 23, 2014


The weather has changed again, and turned bitterly cold with frequent heavy sleet showers - just when we're getting work done on the house which necessitates having windows open and the heating and hot water switched off!  Brrr.

Never mind, there are compensations.  Like the fact that the fells are all covered in snow, creating a dramatic backdrop for the daffodils and new lambs springing up all over...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Around the houses

There are some horrendous roadworks in Kendal at the moment, which effectively cut off the north western part of town from everywhere else.  Trouble is, thanks to the local geography which includes one railway line, three separate rivers and quite a few mountains, there's a very limited selection of other routes.  In fact, there are two.  One is incredibly narrow, skirts the foot of Kentmere and Longsleddale, and comes out on a steep slope at a blind bend on the A6.  The other is a narrow, twisting, switchback road through the village of Burneside and across the fields, joining up with the A6 further towards town.

To avoid the delays in town (which can be up to half an hour at busy times) we've started using the latter route.  Trouble is, so has everyone else.  In fact, I think one of the satnav companies might even have re-programmed their system to suggest that road, because suddenly it's extremely busy, and not just with local cars. 

Yesterday we needed a quick trip into Kendal to pick up some vinyl flooring.  We got through Burneside okay, and past the ruins of the peel tower at Burneside Hall.  Then Dave decided to try to 'shoot the gap' along the really narrow section... and came face to face with a massive hgv around an almost blind bend.  Cue much swearing, and a tricky reverse along half a mile of twisting hedge-bound lane until we finally found a gate to pull in.  The hgv then trundled past without so much as a thank-you wave, and we set off again... only to come face to face with a van.

What all this heavy transport is doing on such an unsuitable route is anyone's guess, but it's lending the trip to the supermarket a distinctly hair-raising note.  And there's still several weeks of roadworks left to go....

Monday, March 17, 2014


Dave came back from his week in Holland with four bars of chocolate, two boxes of tom yum soup, a pack of rotis, and a shocking cold.  I don't mind the choccies or the soup, but I'm desperately trying to avoid being given the cold....

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wings over the lake

I popped out for another walk on Monday, to take advantage of the sudden spring weather and warm sunshine.  Pottering about on some of the by-ways at the back of Bowness, where the town gives way to fields and woods, I heard the sudden roar of an aircraft engine.  Nothing new in that, because we get so many RAF training flights over the lake, except that this one sounded different from the usual shattering scream of a Tornado.

Sure enough, when the plane appeared, banking steeply almost right overhead, it turned out to be a Spitfire!  It was painted black with yellow flashing along the wings.  As I watched it levelled out and headed off at some speed across the lake, to be lost as a small dark speck in the scenery, leaving me none the wiser what it was doing there.

A thoroughly nice surprise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Passing in the night...

Dave and I seem to be like the proverbial ships at the moment.  He spent a good bit of last week away on business.  Then on Friday there was a work crisis, and he got on a train heading south only ten minutes after I'd got on a train heading north for a weekend away.  He got back late Saturday.  I got back Sunday afternoon.  By Monday morning he was off again, this time to Manchester airport for a flight to Holland, where he'll be all week.

We'll be lucky if we still remember each other's faces at this rate...

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Becks and bridges

Spring seems to be lying in wait, finally, ready to pounce.  Monday was sunny from start to finish, and yesterday wasn't bad either.  Blue sky, fluffy white clouds, birds cheeping in the hedgerows and trees, and even the odd daffodil daring to put in an appearance. 

To make the most of it, I set off for a walk.  I only really intended to go round the block, but it was so nice out that I couldn't face going straight home and decided to explore a bit instead.  I followed the local beck up through the streets right to the edge of town, and found a new footpath, a historic farmhouse with a stunning garden (see photo below), and what looks suspiciously like a pack-horse bridge tucked away down an alley.  It just goes to show that even the fringes of the local council estate can be packed full of history and charm if you know where to look.  Add a spectacular view of the fells on the way back down and you have all the ingredients for a really enjoyable afternoon stroll.  Although given some of the gradients involved, perhaps 'stroll' is too gentle a word.

Today is back to cloud and the occasional speck of drizzle, but I'm really hoping that the weather is on the turn at last, and that I can get out walking like this more often.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Sleet, snow and strawberries

We both had cabin fever on Saturday, so decided to head for Keswick.  This is a good option if the forecast is iffy, since it's got shops to dive in if it's raining, and walks to the lake if the sun decides to shine.

Last time we went, it sleeted.  This time?  It sleeted.  At least at first, although by the time we'd huddled round the market and darted into the Wild Strawberry café for a coffee, the clouds were lifting and there was the occasional gleam of sun.  The café, by the way, was pricey.  As I said to Dave, the strawberry wasn't so much wild as livid at the cost of the drinks.

Since it had stopped sleeting we wandered down to the landing stages and mooched along the lake shore path for a while.  The sun had a smidge of warmth in it for the first time, although there was still a good covering of snow on the highest fells.  Add some sombre clouds swirling over Skiddaw and the mix was perfect for photography, although the picture above isn't mine - it's one I nicked off Google images!

After a quick lunch in Brysons (food average, prices also on the high side) and another wander round the town, we realised our car parking ticket was about to run out so scarpered back to the car, pausing just long enough to buy a long-handled squeegee-thing to wash the windows with from a market stall.  On route back to Windermere we turned off along the far shore of Thirlmere for some spectacular views of a very snowy Helvellyn range (more photos) then bounced and sloshed our way along the lane, avoiding some mad drivers heading too fast the other way.  It was only Dave's skill behind the wheel that saved one near miss being a full-on collision.  Worth it for the scenery, though.