What's going on at the cottages?     -  The Sunnybank Blog!    2014         

Dec 28
To end Caroline and Andrew's stay (they go back to work in London tomorrow) we all went to see Paddington at the cinema.
Dec 27

To blow away the cobwebs Jill, Caroline and the girls walked up to Sweden Bridge.

The girls posed by the beck, after finding money the fairies left uner the bridge!

Dec 23
As preparation for Christmas, Jessica and Megan helped Grandad build and decorate the gingerbread house!

Dec 21

To finish off the wall on the farm track side, Dan replaced all the fence posts and then replaced the sheep netting with brand new netting which we already had in stock. So not only is he a good dry stone waller, Dan is also a great fencer!
After a spell of inactivitity due to the foul weather, Dan returned to finish the wall. This how it looks now from the rear path to the coalhouses. A vast improvement from the previous state. It had last been re-built about 33 years ago.
Dec 2
With the aid of Keith's wide angle lens camera, this is the finished kitchen or should I say dining room in Cobbleholes!

Today, Andy the kitchen fitter, has returned to complete the refurbishment of the old kitchen in Cobbleholes to make it our new dining room.

Here Andy prepares to add the extra drawer fronts and doors.


The top unit with its glass cupboards and LED lighting is looking better

Last night, Rich repainted the newly plastered walls and now the kitchen/dining room is looking much better.



Nov 25

As Dan works on the reatining wall outside in the cold, Alec Brood sets about skimming the walls of Cobbleholes kitchen.

There was not a single straight wall and the uneven walls remain as evidence of "character" but with good smooth walls.

This picture shows for the last time the gaudy colours (yellow and green with a thin black stripe) which were on the walls from perhaps the building of the cottages in 1815.

Nov 25
Today was white van day at Sunnybank! The white Transit was Stephen Faulkner's (who is rebuilding Keith's kitchen units to accommodate a washing machine). The Land Rover is Dan's (working on the retaining wall) and the pickup is Alec Brood's (plasterer).
Nov 25

After working for two days with Mike to pull down the wall to its foundadtions, Dan has now started the rebuilding of the wall and by the end of today it was about two feet back up, with some very large stones to take the weight of what will eventually lie on top of them!

Meanwhile, Alec Brood the plasterer had arrived to skim the walls of Cobbleholes kitchen!

In recent weeks we have seen a worrying bulge in the retaining wall outside the kitchen window and finally today we saw work start by Dan Sumner (foreground) assisted by Mike in the rear. They built a platform along the back pathway and then removed a couple of the top stones. The result was a semi-controlled rockfall. On Monday they will pull a lot more down before starting to rebuild MINUS the bulge and overhang!
Nov 20
Today we visited a very special house on the shores of Windermere. Broad Leys is an Arts and Crafts style house and was designed by Voysey. It is now the home of the Lake District's Motor Boat Racing Club. The frontage features the three double height bay windows, the centre one being the window of the Great Hall. We had a full tour of the house which remains largely as it was in 1899 when it was completed for a family of coal mine owners from Leeds as a "holiday cottage"!
Oct 28

The rain band which has dumped over ten inches on Scotland in the last four days has now arrived in Ambleside! The rain has fallen all day and as the video clip shows, it has caused the cancellation of all services on the garden railway!

Click here to see the video

Oct 11

A day out in Manchester today! Our Rugby League team were in the Grand Final at Old Trafford versus Wigan. We parked alongside Old Trafford Cricket Ground and then met Ben who had driven up from Reading and had our tickets!

However, the game was only two minutes old when a Wigan player assaulted Lance Hohaia when he was already knocked out! His sending off meant that we were no longer the underdogs and the match ended in a famous win for Saints 14-6.

After prolonged celebrations, we left the stadium and said bye to Ben and his friends before setiong off for the drive home.

Oct 6 At the end of an action-packed trip to London, we returned home after taking the girls to school and seeing their new classroom for this, their second year in infants school. Our train ride home ended at Preston! Last nights' gales had brought down trees north of Oxenholme which had, in turn brought down the overhead wires. So.... we had to endure a 2 hour coach ride through rush hour traffic to get back to our car at Oxenholme Station!





Oct 4 (pm)





On the way back to the station, we took Jessica and Megan to Covent Garden to see the new and famous optical illusion.

The installation appears to be a house unsupported in the middle. It was designed by Alex Chinneck and is called "Take my Lightning but Don’t Steal my Thunder". The top of the building is entirely supported by girders which go up from an unassuming "wooden shed" at the far end of the building just beyond the chap with the yellow coat.

Jessica and Megan appear to be dicing with death under the window on the left!

On return to the start, we searched around the O2 arena area's eating places and finally chose Wagamama's noodle resaurant.The girls loved it and practised their chopstick technique and also threading long noodles into their mouths (and of course so did Nana!).

We returned to Waterloo on the Thames Clipper before taking the train to Gipsy Hill and home to Caroline. She was most impressed that the girls had tried and enjoyed Wagamama!

The good news is that she and Andrew had found a house and later they submitted a successful offer for it. So our trips to Crystal Palace will possibly soon become trips to Staines-upon-Thames?!

After putting our suitace in the left luggage office at Waterloo, we headed off on the 188 bus all the way to - yes you've guessed it - the cable car!

The girls were not phased by the height of the ride and loved it all.

Oct 4 The day of departure. Whilst the others headed back to Euston for their trains home, Rich and Jill met Caroline, Andrew and the twins at Waterloo station where the girls were handed over to us for the day whilst Caroline and Andrew headed off to Staines to hunt for a new house.




Oct 3














Oct 3








After returning to the hotel by clipper, we rested before returning to our favourite restaurant , The Campini, for another excellent Italian meal.

To end in style, we assembled on Waterloo Bridge to see the lights and pose for the final group photo.

After returning to the south side, we split up for various visits including the Cutty Sark. Underneath the vessel is a display of wooden ships' figureheads. Two interlopers have been spotted!
The view back towards the City was spectacular with "The Dome" or the O2 arena as it is now called, and the towering blocks of Canary Wharf in the distance.
Ray watches a car pass us as we head North.
On board the Emirates Cable Car (aka the Boris Cable Car) Jacqui seems to be checking how far we have to go after a quick glance downwards! At 80 metres above the water, the views were superb!
Oct 3 (am)

Today we packed an awful lot in! We started by taking a bus to Waterloo Bridge and then walking to Emankment Pier where we boarded a Thames Clipper to Greenwich. We aimed to go on the "Boris" cable car across the river (see above), as well as splitting up for various visits in the Greenwich area.

These three pictures show (top to bottom):

HMS Belfast with The Shard in the background

Tower Bridge

The Houses of Parliament

Only later did we learn just how queasy Jacqui and Ray had felt on the landing stage!

Once the clipper passes Tower Bridge the speed rapidly incresed to 35mph for an exhilarating ride. Unfortunately we sped over a decent wave in the river and several of the group got drenched by the spray!!!


Oct 2


A close up of a couple of hundred poppies!

Later we went off to the Savoy Theatre to see "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" which should have included Robert Lindsay but he was on holiday! Nevertheless, the evening was a great success and we were even give a free upgrade to £80 seats in the stalls!

The poppies were amazing. When completely installed there will be 888,246 ceramic poppies - one for each soldier lost in WW1. We have ordered one for delivery when they are all removed. As we watched, a team of volunteers in red and a small group of soldiers were assembling the poppies and then "planting" them in the moat of the Tower of London.

Here they appear to be "pouring" out of a tower into the moat.

After lunch we had a short tour of the Palace of Westminster before posing in front of Big Ben, or to be more precise St.Stephen's Tower.

From here we departed and walked past the Eye to catch the RV1 bus through a little known part of London along the South Bank to Tower Hill, where we wanted to see the sea of poppies.

In beautifully warm autumn sunshine, we sat alongside the Thames on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament for lunch. Clockwise from left - Jill, Brian, Jacqui, Liz, Caroline, Ray and Peter. Any photos had to be taken without any MPs in them!
Perhaps it had been the sight of a 30 feet high blue chicken on the 4th plinth!

Oct 2


Today we were due at the House of Commons for lunch with Caroline. Beforehand, we all did different things. Rich and Jill went to Trafalgar Square and visitred the National Gallery. Outside Jill seems to have taken a turn for the worse by the famous fountains!
Oct 1 Today we set off for London on the train and were joined at Lancaster by Jacqui and Brian, and at Warrington Bank Quay by Ray, Peter and Liz. Together, we are the B.Ed group who survived the part time B.Ed course at Edge Hill (Ormskirk) between 1979 and 1982. We meet up annually, but this year we opted for a few days in London. We stayed at the Travelodge near Waterloo which was a perfact base for trips into the West End and City.
Sep 14 Major updates to this blog today! We have been so busy recently. The kitchen in Cobbleholes is now officially a dining room and work is underway to make it so. The cooker and wall cupboards have gone, plus the cooker wiring, so that we can class the two cottages as one dwelling for council tax purposes. The tiles are removed and the next stage will be to have the walls skimmed and then the old kitchen units will be made to look more like a dresser with wooden effect doors and a plate rack above.
Aug 25
After a Bank Holiday Monday trip to Kendal to buy new school shoes for the girls we headed over to the Millerbeck Railway near Newby Bridge and Grandad took a ride with the girls on the little steam train.
Aug 20

Today we met up with Rachel and her three children and their grandma, Marylin, at the Whinlatter Forest Park near Keswick which has superb adventure areas for adults and children


Caroline tries to slow down (or is it speed up?) the giant swing with Megan, Max, someone else, Emily, Jessica and Sophie all enjoying the fun.

Megan comes down the giant slide at Whinlatter Forest Park as Jessica scrambles back up the slope after her go.



Aug 19

Jessica tries to keep hold of the bottle!


The highlights of the visit included watching Sarah the cow being milked and then some of that milk was used to feed the lambs.

Here the girls get used to the feisty feeding habits of a lamb which was desperate for the bottle full of milk!


Megan has a go!

Jessica is shown how to brush the leg hair ("feathers") of a very large Clydesdale horse!
Megan (left) and Jessica (right) try out a Massey Ferguson tractor.

Today we had discovered a farm near Bouth (at the southern end of Windermere) where you could visit and experience feeding and milking the animals.

There were lots of old vehicles on display and here the girls and Caroline are sitting in an old charabanc which started its life as a fire engine!

Aug 17 After a second night in the hotel, Caroline and the girls joined us for the drive back to the cottage. Andrew was to join us later but he also had work committments.
Aug 16
Today was Poppy Day in Reading. Last night we met the train at Reading bringing Caroline, Andrew and the twins back from Penzance and quickly collected the girls whilst Caroline and Andrew continued into London with the luggage. Meanwhile, we stayed overnight at the Reading Moat House and today we took the girls to Ben's house for Poppy Day. Caroline and Andrew returned by train this morning and the day was a great success with around 35 people in the garden for the party and BBQ. Here all the girls line up on the settee. The three on the right all share March 19th as a birthday!
Aug 6

Ben offered to help replace the broken cast iron gutters at the back of the cottages with new plastic ones.


As we reached the end of the job (the centre downspout) Ben decided it was time for a roofie (that's a selfie of roofers!)

Aug 5
Later that day, Poppy enjoyed being in the musical Mini Cooper seat!
A group selfie of our trip through Whinlatter Forest to find the Gruffalo. Daisy was thrilled to find it. Richard points to the poisonous green wart but accidentally sticks his finger up Gruffalo's right nostril. (Well that's my excuse and I am sticking to it!)
Aug 3
Ben, Alison, Daisy and Poppy pose for Jill on a walk up the lane to the farm.
Aug 2

Today Ben, Alison, Daisy and Poppy arrived for a week with us. Ben always does a pose by the farm gate and this time the men building a barn at the farm had left a blue hard hat on top of the gatepost so that the concrete lorries would know where to turn off the road.

Poppy looks unimpressed with Daddy's new hat!

Aug 1
By 5.50pm the stove was in place, the brassware was back in place and the fitters had departed. We need to wait three days for everything to set before we really try it out. Ashley did a smoke test on the stove which it passed with ease.
Gingerly, Ashely lowers himself back onto the ladder and all that remained now was to manoeuvre the actual stove into place and join it to the new liner.

Slowly but surely, Ashley pushed the liner down the flue and then cut off the spare two metres before fitting a new stainless steel cowl.

Note how Ashley is standing on top of the chimney stack.

With the aid of a ladder and a roof ladder they manhandled the new 6 inch liner up the roof. (Not a job Rich would even entertain!)
Soon after 10.30am the two fitters from Cumbria Stoves arrived and set about creating a new register plate (cover) inside the flue to accept the new stainless steel liner for the flue.

We have been preparing for a new woodburning stove in Cobbleholes. That involved removing the fire (heavy) and the old canopy (extremely dirty!). We then spent four days with three bottles of Cillit Bang and numerous kitchen rolls and a steamer removing 50+ years worth of soot and tar from the back wall which was soon to be on show.

Jul 29
After one night at home from the wedding, we took the train down to London for the day to attend the wake for Jill's Uncle Jack who died recently aged 98. The wake was in Clissold Park and here Poppy (Ben and Alison's second child) enjoys the look of surprise from Caroline.
Jul 27
Neil and Kathryn pose with the groom's parents - Graeme and Linda. The ceremony and reception were held at Lartington Hall - a grand house about a mile from Barnard Castle.
Jill enjoyed meeting up again with Brenda, her cousin, and swapping family updates. There was plenty of laughter around that day!
Three generations of Jill's family - Auntie Peggy (aged 83), Graeme (Jill's cousin), and Neil (Graeme's son).
Jul 15

Some days just don't go according to plan! As Rich was cutting a piece of worktop to fill in a gap in the kitchen in Cobbleholes, the piece of worktop slipped off the cutting table and landed squarely on his left big toe! Several words were said, none of which are in the Bible!

Later, an X-ray at Barrow hospital revealed that the end of the toe was now in four separate bits! So it was strapped up and a pair of crutches issued!


Frog on a log on a blog!

As Jill lifted the tarpaulin from our log pile to let the wood dry out in the sunshine she was met by this frog!

It had climbed to the top of a 5 feet high pile of log disks in darkness....

Jul 14

By 8.15am we had loaded the fridge and freezer from Cobbleholes and were at Hayley's house in Nr Sawrey. Hayley is a bellringing friend of Jill's who is moving to Cornwall to work as a brewer and we were to get her combined fridge freezer. So our separate ones were going to her friend in exchange! By 10am we had it installed in our kitchen and so the kitchen remodelling is officially underway!

The interconnecting door is off so we can now walk through between Fellside and Cobbleholes. (Which is a good thing as it has been a thoroughly wet day!)

Jul 13 Today we have started to settle into Cobbleholes. The cooker has been disconnected and the space made for our soon to arrive fridge freezer.
Jul 12

At 9.28am this morning we officially started to retire! That was the point when the Fox's departed after their stay in Sheepgates, making them the last visitors. The Barnsley's had departed yesterday following the sudden illness of a family member.

The first "new" visitors to Sunnybank (now run by the owners) were Andy and Lynda Limbert who arrived yesterday. Andy's first comment was "are we still allowed to talk to you?". Richard replied... "yes of course... but only by appointment!!!" but this was followed by the usual laughter and banter. (Andy is one of our regular blog and weather station checkers.)


Jul 12

On the official day of our "retirement" we have received another card from two of our regular visitors Ged and Pat Power. Their hand made card has a photo of Cobbleholes garden with a rainbow and has been embellished with little gold jewels!

Inside the message said it all...


We have had so many cards and gifts from people who have shared our cottages over the years. Your kind words and thoughts mean a great deal to us...


and although we shall really miss seeing old friends in the future, we shall also enjoy our chance to relax and to travel without worrying about the cottages.


Thank you all!

Richard and Jill

Jul 5

Today, the first Saturday in July, is the traditional day for Ambleside's Rushbearing procession. Hundreds of people watch the procession of children and adults as it makes its way around the town with the walkers holding "bearings" which are traditionally rushes and flowers woven into a design.

Click here to watch a Youtube video of today's procession.



Jul 2

Dent is a most unusual village. This is the main street! The centre is fully cobbled and the roads make no concessions to modern traffic! The traffic has to negotiate the corners carefully as there is no bypass for the village.

The large stone on the right is a memorial to a local man, Adam Sedgwick, who is regarded as one of the fathers of geology in Britain.

Several houses were for sale. The one on the right has three floors for its asking price of £165K.


And then there are the roofs! Massive slates are everywhere and they must test the roof timbers to their limit. This house looks as if that limit is just about exceeded!

Later, after exploring the beautiful village of Dent with its cobbled steets, we drove up the hideously steep road to Britain's highest mainline station at Dent to watch Galatea power through on its way south on the return journey from Carlisle to Lancaster.

Richard set his camera to "continuous" and fired off about 20 shots in 10 seconds to make sure that the best picture wasn't missed.... and here it is!

Determined to see a steam train cross the Riblehead viaduct, we tried again today! We made another early start to see the train as it headed south at Bolton-le-Sands near Hest Bank, we again drove to Ribblehead and took up position at the side of the line just after the viaduct. Just after 1130 the train arrived, pulled by Stanier Jubilee class 45699 Galatea.

Here Galatea works hard to pull its 12 coach train off the viaduct and up the steep gradient to Blea Moor, an area famed for its harsh winter conditions.

Galatea's maroon livery matched perfectly with its coaches. The occupants were waving with smiles on their faces as the train passed.

Jun 27

Yesterday, the lady staying in No2 cottage had a rather too close encounter with a highland cow in Langdale. Susan and her husband were walking through a field of cows with their dog when one cow decided to attack her and flip her up in the air and land her on her thigh. As it came towards her for a second go, she leapt over a wall to safety.

Susan was able to laugh about it later but it certainly scared her!

Here is the cow! The picture was sent by Susan when she arrived home after her stay at Sunnybank!

You can almost imagine it saying "come on lady - make my day... just come back in my field!"

Jun 25

Today we decided to go out for the day to see the Fellsman steam train (which runs every Wednesday in Summer and goes over the Settle Carlisle route.)

That meant leaving home at 6.45am to see the empty train at Hest Bank between Carnforth and Lancaster.

Here the driver and fireman are producing a decent amount of smoke as it speeds through Hest Bank alongside the coast of Morecambe Bay.

  Click here to see a video of the train passing us. Not the best vantage point but the best option at that location.

By 11.25 we were at the side of the Ribblehead Viaduct (with about 300 other spectators) and awaiting the train's arrival over this iconic engineering national treasure.

So imagine the disappointment of us and the other 300 when it came along behind a diesel loco. Apparently the loco had injector problems by the time it reached Preston and so the diesel was sent by the direct route to Hellifield where the locos were swapped over.

Maybe we will try again next week!

Jun 21
The recent sunshine has really boosted the growth of the flowers we bought on May 14 from the Kendal market stall (see below). Three troughs stand on the edge of the patio and make quite a show!
Jun 16 As the end of our letting business approaches and with no free weekls left until the final day (July 12th), Richard has removed parts of this website which no longer apply. The website will become more family orientated and it now has a link to our local history website.
Jun 12

After weeks of planning by Richard, the Rotary Club of Ambleside had its 50th charter dinner tonight. With 73 people attending at The Salutation Hotel, the evening was a great success with the main speaker being Richard Rhodes, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria.

Here, our youngest member - Nigel Hartley - presents our Founder member - Malcolm Tyson with a silver photo frame to mark his continuous 50 year membership of the club. To the left of Malcolm is Alec Mann, another Founder Member who, although no longer a member, was delighted to join in the celebrations.


May 29

Today we met up with Jill's neice Rachel and her three children. We walked up the valley from Tilberthwaite Quarry (near Coniston) and paused on the route for a picnic lunch.

Here Max (left) stands as the twins are amused by Emily (right), whilst Sophie (front) sits eating her sandwich.

The route was around 2.5kms and had its share of steep scrambles, level paths and river crossings by boulder hopping and a rickety rackety bridge, under which there was rumoured to be a troll!

May 28

Ladybird Cottage was a big hit with the girls during their week's stay. The bunting was put up and the verandah was used for everything from an ironing board centre to a tea party location.

Here, Megan looks out at the donkeys in the field.

Jessica and Megan served many imaginary meals to us and to Caroline and Andrew. Wooden blocks became sponge cake and the yellow pad in Jessica's hand doubled as a pancake and a CD whilst the pretend microwave oven also doubled as a CD player!


During the week we also watched Disney's 101 Dalmations twice and Cinderalla twice (if not three times). The girls loved it when the two baddies in 101 Dalmations get bitten on the backside by Pongo the Dalmation and their trousers pulled down revealing purple underpants!.

Click here to see the girls reaction to the prurple underpants scene!

May 27

Caroline, Andrew and the girls arrived for a week's stay on May 24 and their stay coincided with Caroline's birthday. Megan and Jessica made a chocolate cake in secret with Nana and Grandad whilst Caroline was out shopping with Andrew.

Here Caroline attempts to blow out the candles as we prepared to try it out in Cobbleholes garden. It was remarkably light and the chocolate frosting made it look very luxurious.

Jill seems slightly confused about whose birthday it is as she tries to blow out the candles too!

Apologies to the headless Andrew!

May 21

Today, with our friends Roy and Jean, we took the bus to Barnard Castle for market day. This classic bus runs every Wednesday from Ravenstonedale near Tebay and takes a rambling route through Brough and Middleton in Teesdale to Barnard Castle. It picked up 20-30 local people with shopping trolleys and took around 2 hours for the journey. We explored the market and then had lunch at the Three Horseshoes before wandering down to the castle and river and back up The Bank ( a street which is aptly named!).

Here Harvey the bus pauses in Middleton in Teesdale for a few minutes.

The great news is that the entire trip is free with your over 60's bus pass! (or £10 return if you have to pay)

The bus was FULL of shopping on the way back!

Just after leaving Middleton, we passed Jill's great-grandparents' house at Eggleston.

The last time we were here, in 2013, it was during a cloudburst and low cloud and so was not even fit enough to get out of the car!

Today we had sunshine and summer fair weather clouds.

May 20 Another very lazy day! Learned today that the person killed (see below) was a 23 year old local man.
May 19
At 2.30pm Rich was in Croydon for the MOT. After an hour's wait, it PASSED - AGAIN! Then, after returning the car to Caroline's home, it was off to Euston for the train home. All was going well until about three minutes from Rich's stop at Oxenholme when there was a terrible banging under the first coach (where Rich was). After an emergency stop it turned out we had hit and killed someone on the line! (What are the chances of twice in one trip?)


By the time the fire brigade, police and Network Rail staff had arrived, together with a relief driver (as the usual driver was in shock and treated by paramedics), it was 12.20am when the train limped into Oxenholme where everyone had to get off and coaches were ordered for the 100 or so people who still had to get to Carlisle or Glasgow. Rich was provided with a taxi which he shared with three Spanniards who were going to Bowness!

Ironically Rich arrived home at exactly 1.45am (the same as on Saturday!)

This trip counts as the worst experience ever, but Rich felt so sad for the families of the victims and the poor train drivers who could do nothing to avert the accident.

May 18 A lazy morning with a decent lie in! We checked the Corsa and all seemed OK for tomorrow's test. Then Rich went with the twins to their swim school nearby. It was a lovely day and the girls enjoyed playing in the garden afterwards.
May 17

It's the time of year when Caroline's car (our old Vauxhall Corsa) is due for its MOT in London. So Rich took the train down leaving at 1824 on Saturday. At Stafford the train came to a halt as a person had been killed by the train in front. So.... Rich's train reveresed 25 miles back to Crewe and then went via Stoke.

Problem solved?

Well yes and no... because as the train approached Watford Junction, a freight train in front broke down (badly) as it crossed all four tracks with the result that Rich's train was cancelled from Bushey so the whole train load of passengers transferred to a local Watford to Euston service. It was packed and it made 19 stops! Rich arrived in London too late for the tube towards Caroline so it was a case of night buses and he arrived in Crystal Palace at 1.45am!!! (shattered)

May 14

Due to our enthusiasm for planting troughs, we ran out of plants! So, being a Wednesday, we drove at 5.30am to Kendal and the very popular plant market stall. This week we arrived after the lorry was unloaded and by 6.05 am there were over twenty people all assembling their orders into piles on different parts of the pavement. This picture is about 1/3 of the area and there are 11 people in this shot.

15 minutes and £28.50 later we left, went to a deserted ASDA and had the shop to ourselves before returning home via a layby overlooking the lake for a bacon roll and tea!

Now we have to start planting tubs again!

May 13
This afternoon we decided to have a walk around Rydal Hall and see the bluebells. The sheer number and colour of them this year is amazing.
A true pastoral scene from the path leading up to Rydal Hall. A ewe feeds her lamb, oblivious of the beautiful scenery and lighting behind her.
"OK.... I know I'm cute but I'll just pose with my front leg raised a little like this"
May 11 After working in between (and sometimes through) showers, Rich has now re-connected the old Victorian cast iron pump alongside the pond with its own electric pump to send around 1500 litres per hour through the old pump and back into the pond.
May 10 Following Jill's return from London, we have been busy planting up seven long tubs and various hanging baskets with the plants bought last Wednesday. However we ran out on tub no7 so a quick trip to Kendal is likely on Wednesday but not until 6am. The prospect of earning another 5p discount does not appeal!
May 7





Off to school with Daddy and Nana! Megan and Jessica set off for school for the school trip to Godstone Farm.

Meanwhile......280 miles North, Grandad was up early (4.50 am) to go to Kendal to be there when the bedding plant stall arrives for the market. He was there by 5.15am and the plant lorry didn't arrive until 5.30.

He helped unload the 7 ton lorry and put selected trays of plants into the boot. At 6am the lorry was empty and the lady totted up the bill and Rich returned home. He got a 5p discount for helping!!!!! Next year he'll just watch them do it!

(Why so early you ask? The people in the know get there that early! The prices are great and the quality is too. Last year we rolled up at 9am and there was very little left. This morning about ten people had arrived to buy by 6am!)

May 6






As the school trip is not until Wednesday, Jill took the train from London to Reading for the day to visit Poppy who is now a cute as a button and her eyes are open!

May 5 Jill has gone to London to go on a school trip with Megan and Jessica. Caroline cannot get time off after her various absences due to their house floods over Chistmas. So a little voice rang one day and said "Nana, would you like to come on a school trip to a farm with us?" Jill didn't need to be asked twice!
May 4




A recent check of our old weather vane on the end of the old toilet building revealed that it had corroded badly and the W for West was more of a V. So a Google search for a new one was carried out and we found a supplier for a new version, which is coated with weather-proof resin so it should last a long time. It took two weeks to arrive but was worth the wait! After arrival, Rich added some gold paint to the letters and arrowhead and then set it up.

Apr 30
The warmth of the last few days has prompted the bluebells on the kitchen window bank to burst into full flower!
This morning Ian Benson returned to add the catch to the gate so now we have a sheep-proof and rot-proof rear gate again!
Apr 29

Just for a change we decided to have a day out so we drove to Fleetwood and then parked the car and took a ride on the new super trams to Starr Gate (at the south end of Blackpool) before changing to a bus for a ride to Lytham where we found a lovely Mediteranean restaurant with an outside terrace. To sit in warm sunshine and watch the world (and an amazing number of daschund dogs) go past as we ate was a real bonus.

We returned to find that our new back gate had arrived in our absence!

Apr 28
Spring is definitely here now. The swallows and house martins have returned and are busy surveying the stables in the field alongside the cottages for a suitable nesting site. Today for the first time we heard the cuckoo across the valley!
Apr 18
It's Good Friday and the valley has two new arrivals. Born just after 7am, these two Herdwick cuties were still being licked clean by Mum as they sat in the warm sunshine aged 1 hour 30mins!
Apr 11

A lovely sunny day but we had a chance to prepare two cottages in advance for tomorrow, when we are dure to go to Richard's brother, Robert's 65th birthday celebration in Stoke on Trent. The visitors had left early as they were moving house today!!

Robert has recently had a knee operation so he sat to greet his guests.

During the evening party two musicians from London - The d#gents - played their flute and acoustic guitar to offer a selection of tango and choro flavoured music from Brazil and Argentina.

They have recently graduated from the Royal School of Music and have started providing concerts in people's homes!

The music was followed by a music ride outside performed by Katie, Robert's daughter and 16 other girls from the riding school which Robert owns.

Matilda (born Christmas Day 2013) and Oliver get to know each other as cousins at the party. Matilda is Helen and Andrew's daughter, whilst Oliver is James and Jodie's son.
Jill and Katie enjoying a glass of champagne in the new garden room at Robert's house. Needless to say, Katie changed before her musical ride later on in the evening!
Apr 7
After..... The lounge in April
Before.... The lounge in January
As the repairs to Caroline and Andrew's flooded flat near completion, an offer by Richard to go back down to Caroline if need be was taken up. So armed with a suitcase full of drills, tools and a few clothes, Rich went off by train to London and stayed until Wednesday evening. In that time, numerous pictures and mirrors were re-hung, window sills and thresholds sanded and painted as the flooring was completed by a workman. Megan and Jessica were on holiday so Andrew had the week off to look after them and tackle the jobs too.
Apr 4

We returned home after several days in Poppy's company and a flying visit to Caroline in London to try to assist with the imminent move back into her flat after her Christmas-time flooding. However, there were so many workmen in the flat finishing things off we stayed out of the way and Rich took Caroline off to buy extra supplies of paint and such like for the "rapidly approaching completion" flat.

Poppy showing a distinct lack of respect for her grandparents!

Apr 1 Rich sent an email to all his Rotary Club members excplaining that the club was about to be merged with a neighbouring club which has both genders as members! It didn't take long for some of the recipients to vent their wrath at the dispicable idea of such a merger! As each response came in (lambasting the District officers for such an idea), the senders were simply asked to check the date! That produced some interesting responses too!
Mar 30

Drove down to Ben and Alison's at Reading on Mother's Day. This was our "scheduled" visit timed to be after Poppy had arrived (see below Mar 19th). We had arranged to stray at Alison's parents' house about 6 miles away whilst they were away on holiday. However, due to family circumstances, Sally had to go up to the Dundee area for most of the week to do a house clearance so we had the company of Martin. It was good to have the chance to cuddle Poppy and feed her when required.

Daisy looking cute in the garden.

Mar 26
We received a lovely card from Colin and Cybil Roberts thanking us for their holidays over the years. Included was a picure of Reggie, their dog, with the inscription "do I really have to climb that hill (Wansfell) again?"
Mar 22

About 3.00 pm today the peace of the valley was disturbed by a RAF Sea King Rescue helicopter which arrived to assist a rescue of someone just below the summit of Wansfell, opposite the cottage. After winching down a doctor?, the helicopter circled for ten minutes whilst the person was stabilised. It then returned to hover (with its rear rotor fairly close to the ground!) and the casualty was winched aboard before being taken off to hospital (probably in Lancaster or Preston).

With the aid of Richard's large telephoto lens, here is a picture showing the scene as the person and crewman are lifted towards the open door. The chap in red is a member of the local mountain rescue team.

Mar 20 Click here for a message from Poppy!

At 0724 we were on the train to Euston and by 1125 we were in Reading and met by Ben. At 3pm we had our chance to visit Alison and Poppy in the hospital and met our newest grand daughter!

Ben Poppy and Daisy pose for the camera.

Finally, it was back to London and then the trusty Pendolino to Oxenholme. We were back home by 11pm after a very hectic but exciting few days!

Mar 19 The twins' actual birthday and, it transpired later, the birthday of a brand new member of the Attenborough family - Poppy, who arrived very quickly and weighed in at a healthy 7lbs+. We immediately booked train tickets for Reading for tomorrow morning!
Mar 18

Alison is due to give birth today so we left the hotel and drove to Wokingham to see her, as well as Ben, Daisy and Alison's parents - Martin and Sally. Alison and Martin went off to the hospital for a planned check on baby's progress but there were no signs of imminent arrival so we set off north to Ambleside.

As we passed Birmingham, Ben rang to say that things were now happening and we may need to do a U turn! However, we decided to carry on to home (partly because the car was full of logs from Caroline's garden!)

Mar 17

Later we drove westwards along the coast to Arundel and after checking out a model railway shop, we went into Arundel town centre for lunch. The castle was not far away and makes a great backdrop to the town!

Then it was a leisurely drive back to London for a birthday meal with Caroline and the girls.

Having driven down the boring M23, we made our way along the coast to Rottingdean, one of Jill's childhood favourite locations. We were blessed with sunshine for our walk on the beach before finding a coffee shop for a mid-morning drink.

Rich's birthday. We woke early in our hotel room (tenth floor at Jury's Inn Croydon) to a weird sight. The early sun was glinting off every window in an office block about three miles away and looked for all the world like a square sun! Below it and left the sun's red rays glance off another building.

We were up early for a nostalgic trip to Brighton for the day.

Mar 16

The star of the birthday party was Tricky Toby - a magician / children's entertainer. He had the children screaming with excitement as he used a model house with a picture of a mouse which appeared at various windows and doors.

Click here for a short video clip

At the end of the magic show, Megan and Jessica pose with the real rabbit which appeared from a box by magic!
Daisy gets her first up-close encounter with a rabbit!
At the end of the party meal, Megan and Jessica blow out the candles.
Mar 15 Today we set off for London to be there for the 5th birthday party for Megan and Jessica. As Caroline and family are still in temporary accommodation following their Christmas flood, we stayed at the Jury's Inn, Croydon.
Mar 2
The cast of the Film "Raven on the Jetty" with our friend Anne Fraser on the extreme right (and the raven being held on the left hand side!)
This afternoon we went with a group of our friends to Keswick for the World Premiere of a film called "Raven on the Jetty". The reason for our interest is that Anne Fraser, a friend of the group, played the grandmother in this film about a boy who has been affected by a marital break-up. Rich is on the right side, looking to his right and Jill is there next to him but partly hidden by Joe.
Feb 23

Today we decided (almost on a whim) to drive to Glasgow for the night and visit the Scottish Model Rail Exhibition at the SECC (like an armadillo shell). We got a really good deal at a hotel almost next door and so off we went.

It was good to just get away and have a short break before driving home at a leisurely pace on the following day. The giant crane was once used to load real sized railway locomotives onto ships for export. Our hotel was just through the girders of the tower for the crane.

Feb 21
After an all-action week with the twins, today we took them to Warrington where we were due to have lunch after collecting Caroline from the London train. Later we put them all back on the train to London and our life was suddenly strangely quiet!
Feb 18

Today's outing was by an open top bus (actually a single decker today on account of the weather) ride to Bowness where we visited the World of Peter Rabbit.

The girls liked the displays - here they look at Jeremy Fisher on his lily leaf.

Feb 17
Today we went off to see the twins' cousins at Greystoke near Penrith. Numerous games of hide and seek in their lodge and a walk along the local lanes with Milly the puppy helped amuse them.
Feb 16

A lovely sunny day, so we walked to Grove Farm on the other side of the valley and later the girls enjoyed playing in Ladybird Cottage in the garden.

This is the view from Grove Farm, with Roundhill Farm across the valley and our cottages over towards the left.

In the distance, Wetherlam and Crinkle Crags are dusted with snow.

Feb 15

Today we left for London on the 0724 from Oxenholme, arrived at Euston at 1030 and came back on the 1130 ! (with the twins - Megan and Jessica). This is their first holiday with Nana and Grandad and without Mummy or Daddy.

Posing on the farm gate ouitside the cottages.

Jessica on the left, Megan on the right.

Feb 8 Our grey, wet and windy weather continues but thankfully we have no flooding like the poor folk down in the South West.
Feb 3

Today we drove with Pete and Liz to St. Bees where we hoped to see some spectacular waves as a result of the high winds. We were not disappointed! We arrived just before high tide at midday and the seas were pounding the sea wall.

Click here to see the video

Feb 1 We have had our "B.Ed" friends with us for the weekend - a group of us did a part time B.Ed course in 1979 and we still get together each year.
Jan 31

It is now officially winter!

As the Somerset Levels get set for more rain we are "enjoying" weather of a cooler variety! It started snowing just after 1035 and soon the valley had taken on a wintery appearance!

Jan 20
"The Beast" - took up most of the road width and is the sort of vehicle used to go across rough farmland with the odd electric pole on board!

The men finally arrived to put us back on mains power at 10am today! A beast of a 4X4 truck arrived with another van; the cables were unplugged and our power was back on. Then "the beast" hooked up to the 2.2tonne generator and set off up the hill at almost 1mph! The queue of traffic which had had to wait whilst it hooked up were in for a very slow drive up to the top of Kirkstone!

The generator had run non stop for 36 hours and had made life a lot easier for us!

Jan 19 Rich set off at 7am to carry on the removal of Christmas lights from around the town. The generator was still throbbing away producing over 100 amps of power and it fact it remained there all day and into Sunday night. The job to repair the cable at the bottom of the hill has obviously been fraught with difficulties!
Jan 18

At 0825 the power went off for us and 2000 houses around the town. After an hour most of the town was back on but not us! We were due to go to the theatre in Keswick at midday and still we had no power. Not even when we returned at 6pm. A main cable had broken at the bottom of the hill and we were told that it would be tomorrow morning before power was back on!

The man from the company whom Rich found down the road, waiting for the gang to fix it, said that they were sending for generators from Edinburgh!

After a candlelit meal we went to bed at 9pm and at 10pm the power came on. However it was not mains power but this massive generator which had appeared on our car park! The label suggests that this one didn't come all the way from Edinburgh!

Jan 10

We had an early morning visitor in the field alongside the garden today. A buzzard spent 10 - 15 mintues strutting around the field picking up tasty morsels before he/she finally flapped off.

The telephoto lens was quickly attached to get as close as possible. No time for a tripod, so apologies for the slightly grainy pictures.

As you can see, the resident sheep were quite unphased by his/her presence!

Jan 5 Our plans to take our daughter's family luggage and all the Christmas presents down to London for her have been put on hold! When Caroline and Andrew and the girls travelled back home on Dec 29th they opened the door of their ground floor flat to find flooded carpets! Instead of sitting down for a welcome home cuppa, they had to rip out all the carpets and contact their insurers.
Jan 4 We awoke to find our power had failed at 0430 (apparently a tree fell on the other side of the valley and the transformer then caught fire!). Our trusty camping gas burner gave us hot drinks and we kept our fingers crossed for the restoration of power before the visitors arrived in No 2 cottage. The electric company estimated the time of restoration to be 10pm!
Jan 1 We saw in the New Year on the road outside with our friends Jim and Margaret and Joe and Shirley with the usual displays of fireworks in the valleys below and further afield.