Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter fun

Last year Easter was a bit of a disaster.  The weather was freezing cold, we were stuck in the Midlands, and nothing seemed to be open.  So what a lovely contrast to this year's break.  The sun shone more-or-less throughout, it was warm without being uncomfortable, the good weather brought the crowds out, and we managed to pack more into four days than most months!

On Friday we took off across Cumbria to St Bees Head, the start of the famous Coast to Coast walk.  No way were we going to set off on that, but Dave saw it in the autumn at the start of his own marathon walk, and liked it enough to take me back.  Not that there's much there, in some ways - a small dusty town, a large car park, a beach-front café... but the scenery is stunning.  Sweeping beach, rock pools, soaring cliffs, and a path that heads off into the wide green yonder.  We staggered up the first part of the cliff walk, teetering on the brink where the winter storms have washed bits away, and were rewarded with views back over the town to the distant Lakeland fells.  Pure magic, and the drive there, via the white-knuckle route over Wrynose and Hardknott passes, wasn't bad either.

On Saturday we had a few local chores, but late afternoon we strolled down to Windermere Rugby Club for their 'rock the blues' event, a weekend of live bands featuring acts from various parts of the UK, with food from a local Mediterranean-style café in Kendal to boot.  Sadly, this wasn't quite so much fun as I was expecting.  The event itself was very small, really just rugby club members with a few holiday-makers who'd been lassooed in, and the music was a touch on the amateur side with endless cover versions of sixties and seventies hits.  It was enjoyable enough, but had something of the feel of a family wedding rather than the festival we'd hoped for.  And there weren't nearly enough Blues!

Sunday afternoon broke the mould, weather-wise, but we managed to cram a visit to Holehird gardens in before the cloud turned up.  This is the HQ for the Lakeland Horticultural Society, only a stone's throw from where we live, but although we'd seen it advertised we'd never been.  All I can say is, we didn't know what we were missing because it's an absolute gem.  There are walled gardens and herbaceous borders, glass-houses and rockeries, ponds and cascades, all set in a stunning location with far-reaching views across the lake to the fells beyond.  We trotted up and down paths, round and round beds, past fountains and streams, through the 'woodland walk' and past swathes of daffodils, heather and rhododendrons, all in glorious sunshine.  A real treat, and since the garden is just about within walking distance, one I'm hoping to repeat.

Finally, on Monday we headed to Abbot Hall art gallery in Kendal to catch their current exhibition of British Surrealist art (totally fascinating), and then walked up School Knott to round off a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Lake District 4, West Midlands nil!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Lucky find

We took advantage of the sudden warm spring-like weather to stroll down to the lake on Sunday afternoon, and very festive it was too.  The sun had brought out the crowds; people were wandering about feeding the swans and munching ice-creams almost as though it was summer, and the shops had flung open their doors to catch the trade.

This included the little 'Bric a Brac' shop down an alley behind the church, which nearly always has something tempting on its shelves.  I was busy browsing the books when Dave came to grab me.  "You know you've been looking out for the soundtrack to that old BBC series 'Flight of the Condor'," he said.  "Well, they've got it outside, on CD, for a quid."

I nearly ran him over in the rush to get my hands on said CD, because I have indeed been trying to track it down for absolutely years.  The BBC in their wisdom released the soundtrack (a stunning mix of South American music) on LP, and then brought it out on the (then) brand-new format of CD... for about six months... and promptly wiped the entire recording.  Hence copies of the CD are like hen's teeth.  I've had a watch on Ebay for about the last two years with no success; yet here it was, sitting in a pile of other CDs as though it was nothing special.

I chucked a pound coin in the general direction of the shop assistant (who had her hands rather full at the time trying to persuade a giant bumble bee to leave the shop), and headed home well pleased with my loot.  It's amazing what you can find, poking around in these little second-hand shops sometimes!