June 12th, 2012
The sun may not be shining every day here in Keswick, but there’s been little rain and plenty of opportunity for us to be working on the garden and getting out on the hills. Today we had a beautiful Lakes morning with the sun rising over Latrigg against a blue sky.
A marvellous slew of colours too from the flowers and rhodedendron. It’s a joy to be out and what better place for us to have an early breakfast than on the Belvedere deck, as this morning’s photo shows.
The temperatures has not been what we would hope for near midsummer’s day, but compared to what we are seeing every night on the TV of the storms and flooding in the south of England, the North West is the destination to be heading for this summer and the coming holidays!
And if you make it up to The Larches this year, just look at the view of the Skiddaw range (below) from the Buena Vista Crag. You’re tucked away there and unseen at the top of our fellside garden; and if you don’t feel like making it to the top of the fells, you can always from the comfort of the seat travel the footpaths with a pair of binoculars!
May 26th, 2012
I had heard of the phenomenon in these parts before, but the real thing took me by complete surprise. It would have had SAS trainers (had they been here!) reaching for the superlatives to describe the speed and precision of this evening raid.
I’m in the kitchen and watching intently through the window as a fine looking blackbird struggles to drag out from the green lawn a thin pink worm for its meal.
It lets go, then reaches forward again for a shorter pull, braces its feet and pulls its head back for the final coup de grace. I’m engrossed and can sense its frustration, as I had just been wrestling with deep rooted weeds from the vegetable bed.
Suddenly a whirl of feathers hurtles over the hedge from the road outside and swoops down on this small every day scene of garden life. Before I’ve time to wonder what is happening, the attacker has gone and with it the blackbird. All that is left of a second’s struggle is a pile of black and grey feathers scattered on the grass as the photo shows.
The attacker of course was a sparrowhawk, which we have not seen here before. Our excellent AA book of birds in The Larches library describes the signature attack of this small bird of prey, which commonly sweeps fast along a hedge and then does an inverted U flight over the top to surprise its victim.
It refers also to the “plucking post”, where they dismember their kill and I remembered the rocky area at the top of the garden where I had seen last week another collection of small bird’s feathers (See Photo opposite). It looks like the sparrowhawk has been here before, while we’ve been busy trying to see the ospreys from the belvedere!
May 16th, 2012
We have had three C2C visitors this last week stopping by at the cottage on their way across the country on the marvelous coast to coast bicycle route.
Ian and Greg, good friends and former colleagues of mine at the WEA had with Les set off at 8.30 in the morning from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast and arrived, muddied and wet, at The Larches bang on time as predicted four hours later for a hearty lunch of soup and sandwiches.
We had pressed them to stay over for the night but 30 miles on the first day was too slow for an intended two day crossing, which was to land them up at Tynemouth on the east coast.
By the end of the first day they needed to have done 40 more miles and crossed the M6 to reach Great Salkeld beyond Penrith.
They were still arguing as they left about the exact distance they had to travel! But did not dispute that it was somewhere between 125 and 140 miles. Good going we thought for two days, particularly as they had to cross the high country of the Pennines via Consett in County Durham. Some stiff hills there!
The Larches is less than 300 metres from the C2C route, which cuts down through the forest from the Whinlatter pass and the Visitor Centre to reach the Thornthwaite road. It’s an excellent stop off for C2C bikers but is a good base too for anyone interested in road and track cycling in the northern lakes.
It’s also only ½ mile from the start of the Altura cycle trails through Whinlatter Forest, regarded by many as the best in the country. The garage provides good storage facilities for bikes and equipment. The photo opposite shows Ian in the garage after the bikes had been brought in from the rain.
February 1st, 2011
Forget the cold and snow. Winter is a great time in the Lakes for photographers. The trees bare their branches without shame, no longer sway to the Zephyr’s slightest touch, but bend only to the strong. The peripheral is stripped away. The sinews of the land and fells are there for the looking.
We sense the loss of vivid hues and fragrance from summer’s flowers amidst a near monochrome world – until the sun comes out. January has seen some cold weather at The Larches, but we’ve had some gorgeous sunny periods too. Seeing the railings in the garden light up one morning (photo below left) and set their mark on the bank behind was a delight.
The photo at the top shows the decking of the Belvedere with the forest behind. It’s a wonderful vantage point for viewing the marshes summer and winter – and for a quiet read. Below centre is an intriguing photo of the zig-zag shadows of the posts and latticed wires cast by the low-risen winter sun. Below right in the new rockery area beside the steps to the Belvedere is a hardy winter plant, Bugle now showing off its purple colours. You wonder why more people are not up here in Cumbria enjoying this feast!
December 17th, 2010
This week I have had a lovely surprise. It was receiving this short letter from Hannah enclosing a small part of a game (see photo opposite) from a set of building blocks, which we have for visitors to The Larches. Thank you Hannah for returning it to us and for such a nicely written note.
As I read it, I remembered my recent blog (23 October), where i described the excitement of running on the fells above Cat Bells and listening to Chick Corea’s “what game shall we play today?”
Hannah’s reminded me that we all need games! I’m glad to say that we have lots at The Larches on the top shelves above the books in the sitting room. There’s also a special wildlife quiz for children to do in the garden. Look out for it if you come to stay.