Into Summer

You may be forgiven for wondering if you are on the wrong website but I thought this was a lovely picture of my three children, Clare, Paul and Ian, taken at Paul’s wedding at the end of May. It was late on in the evening and they were sitting on the floor together after a dance!

After a dry April and early May, the main feature of the weather has been both its variability and unpredictability. It has been very unsettled not just from day to day but from one part of the day to another and also from one valley to another. Trying to second guess days that might be good for walking on the fells has been quite tricky and in the end one has to be very philosophical and say, some you win, some you lose. My walking friend, Judy, and I certainly won a glorious day over in Eskdale the other week but seriously lost on St Sunday Crag this week; we got extremely wet and were paddling down tracks that had turned to streams whilst we gather the sun shone on Loweswater!

Last week, we had a lovely walk round the Coniston fells. As we were going up Wetherlam some Herdwicks took exception to Wattie and four of them decided to gang up on him and then were joined by two friends!

Thinking of Herdwicks, it was Woolfest at Cockermouth a couple of weeks ago and Margaret and I went along on the Friday. We had never been before and it was quite an amazing experience with lines and lines of stalls and displays of all things woollen including sheep! There were workshops and demonstrations of felting, weaving, spinning, knitting and many other crafts and lots of very colourful people.

Meanwhile back at home, the birds have been providing much interest and entertainment. The wagtails in the clematis fledged and were practising their tail wagging in the courtyard – much over balancing to start off! The swallows in the courtyard also fledged and collapsed the nest in the process. Last year’s swallow nest by Loweswater archway was taken over by house martins who built it up further and it now has three noisy chicks in it. There have been so many baby blue and great tits, all looking somewhat fluffy and scruffy learning to feed on the nuts. Our new house martin boxes under the guttering at the front of the house have been very successful, both are occupied and on one we have a family in the box and also a nest between the top of the box and the eaves. There has also been a young punky woodpecker on the nuts together with a parent.

Around the valley the hay and silage is being cut and the roads are full of tractors and various farm machinery. The sheep are starting to look a bit shorn and the Herdwick lambs are developing white patterns on their faces, some looking very much like pairs of glasses! The flowers along the verges have been lovely and the oxe-eye daisies have been particularly good. Foxgloves are making unexpected purple patches on the lower fellsides. The scent of honeysuckle in the hedges is very strong and my absolute favourite is now appearing – the meadowsweet, it is such a pretty flower and the smell is so evocative.