::That holiday feeling::

I’m feeling refreshed and beginning to get that holiday feeling now: the one just before we go away. We’re preparing for a three week holiday in France- yes, that’s right three weeks! I am so happy to be rested and ready with my holiday feeling just about peaking ready for the off.

poncho edgeOver the last few weeks I have completed many projects that have prepared me for that holiday feeling and in readiness for the new term in September. Here are a few peeks.

20140726_21153920140726_230441Oh those ends, they always take ages and I dread starting them but it looks so much better once they’re done. This is just a sneaky peak at my completed Poncho- I’m taking it to France to photograph in the beautiful and abundant sunflower fields surrounding the house we will be staying at (once we’ve left Paris!) I think having spent  months on this project and taking so much care and attention of it that it’s only right for me to do it justice in a proper photo shoot! YaY! I do looooove this project so much- it really does make my heart sing just to look at it and feel it’s glorious textures! Ahhhhhhhh… (sighs wistfully).poncho finishingI’m hoping that I’ll be able to wear my poncho on those dusky, sunset evenings when it is feeling a little chilly in the air. Oh happy holiday! Next there was the arrival of some beautiful Drops Muskat cotton- well I had ordered it so it was expected. But how soft, luscious and lovely this yarn is – waiting to be whipped up into some beautiful blankets and cushions me thinks!

muskatThen there was the completing of my classroom- having moved classrooms again. This is a huge job, files, resources, relabelling drawers (which my amazing class partner K will do this time) and then the reorganising, re-theming and sorting out of everything from bookshelves to backing paper. As we’re doing a terms topic on The Victorians, we decided to go with a Sherlock theme for the first half term (and a Charles Dickens one for the next half when we do Oliver Twist). Also a bit of a school room feel. What do you think?20140804_13003420140804_130055

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And then there are my garden projects. I’ve never been able to grow Clematis before, they’ve always wilted, dried up, died or just never done anything. But look..

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A proper flower and seed head! I love how this looks so spiky but it’s actually really soft and fluffy! Then there are my geraniums and nasturtiums ditto for them too- it must be the weather we’ve had this year. I know, back in June,  when I see summer blooms that the holidays are not far around the corner.

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So we are getting packed and ready to load up the roof box, pack those bags (including suncream and aftersun, of course), crank up the bike rack and of course the crochet bag. I’ll be working on my kaleidoscope blanket whilst I’m away- lots to catch up on and it’s quite portable and not so big and warm to sit under! Hey ho! That holiday feeling- ready, steady, we’re off!

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::P, P, Pick up a poncho – again ::

10500531_830857983600104_1603038425053066168_nOk, it’s a work in progress, a WIP as they say. It remains in progress, but my poncho is getting more and more beautiful and colourful as it grows. And it’s nearly there. I keep on p, p, picking up that poncho!10325347_829597540392815_7396260218902141198_nBut then I put it down as something else takes over. My Ripple stitch blanket was the most recent distraction. 20140713_18473510389357_822150724470830_4787128616661467355_nThen there will be my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket again. They seem to do triangular rotation, depending on my mood, time and inclination.20140510_09444220140531_163331k blanketNow back to the poncho again. You may remember how it started back at the beginning of the year.CAM00183The beautiful yarn I purchased from Deramores, gorgeous Cascade Peruvian wool, very apt indeed considering the inspiration.

5a872-6a0192aab0192b970d01a73d7c9d4b970d-pi20140420_190606Then there was the starting off, and the pulling out, the frogging, the restart and then the progress.20140513_20015420140525_082255It will give me great pleasure to wear my poncho on our French holiday when we arrive at the Farmhouse we are borrowing from a colleague. We have been before, three times, and it ‘s almost like having a family holiday home. I’ll tell you about it soon, but for now it’s time to concentrate on the Poncho, to get it finished for my cool French evenings with my local wine, cheese and some amazing bread. I’ll enjoy wearing it for evening sunset walks – when I get it finished! Need to keep on p, p, picking up my poncho!poncho 1

::Moving on:

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It is always with a mixture of emotions that I approach the end of the school term as a Deputy Head teacher, a year 6 class teacher, a parent and just as me! In all aspects moving on is a key theme.

The changes happening within school, moving classrooms for September, moving files, records and handing over to the next teacher, transition for the children, the emotional last few weeks for the year 6 children as they begin their moving on journey mentally for secondary school, all bring their stresses, strains and emotional roller coasters. Especially in this hot and humid weather!

20140531_142114In addition there are my sons own transitional journeys: one moving back home from first year at university and the entering of his final GCSE year for my youngest. And then there is me. The ending of another year brings home the knowledge that I know I have made a difference to the children in my school, class and my boys; their outlooks, self-belief, confidence and resilience to move onto new challenges. Moving on confidently is the aim in every sense. I believe I achieved it.

I spent Friday, our last day of term, in a parallel world. On the one hand I marvelled in the joy and knowledge that the year 6 children have the ability to put together a leaver’s assembly that represents their journey through our changing school. The reminiscing, laughing, crying and togetherness of a shared journey through their childhood, supported by dedicated staff, challenged by their peers. I continue to learn from them. It was wonderful to drink in the amazement, wonder and pleasure they had in this their final event in our school. It brought them a mixture of emotions: some they couldn’t contain. Those recent, quiet moments at home, spending a little bit of time on myself, have helped me to get through.

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But on the other hand, I also spent Friday consoling, reassuring and sharing, time, hugs and experiences with the children who have been a huge part of my life this year. This was a special year group for me – they were my first Reception class in this school seven years ago and it has been such a privilege to watch these young people grow over the years, from curious, exploring, exuberant infants to confident, open-minded, responsible juniors. I am extremely proud of every one of them.

Now I say changing school, because we also had the challenge of Ofsted this week. Yes the last week of term. It was both unexpected at this late stage and also a blessing in disguise – I no longer have to worry over the summer about a first week Ofsted in September. It is done and dusted. It went well. We have all worked so very hard. I am so very, very tired. I have spent my evenings snuggled under my growing ripple stitch blanket trying to stay awake to communicate with my family!

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Moving on for me over the next few weeks involves a substantial amount of rest. Sharing my life with a large primary school is a huge commitment for me and my family: their patience and understanding are what gets me through the months, weeks, days and hours that I spend in this highly intensive, challenging and immensely rewarding job. I love my job. It is a privilege.

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My many craft, crochet, baking and sewing projects will help me along. I will be spending lots of time with my family: holidaying in France (Ulcot actually- here on the map and below in the picture), walking up fells, lazy days at home, and we’ll be sharing experiences, laughs, love, kindness, challenges and time.

beckermondsThe surrounding sunflower fields of our holiday destination.

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Then there are my copious gifts. Many, many beautiful and generous gifts from children in the school, not just my class. But also colleagues.

20140720_111154This one just about sums it up. Its a beautiful vase from my colleague by Rob Ryan and it reads, ‘There is no such thing as spare time. There is no such thing as work time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is no such thing as free time. There is no such thing as down time. There is only time.’

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Over the summer months, I will be preparing my boys for their next journey through life, moving onto pastures new. A new shared flat for E as he enters his second university year and the final year of GCSE for Little J (although he will be JP from now on- he is much taller than me!) He has many ideas, hopes and dreams for his future yet to unfold and it never ceases to astound me how much I admire my two offspring. It catches me unawares sometimes and I have to take a moment to compose myself as it overwhelms me. As new parents J and I always joked that our babies didn’t come with a manual, we would always do what felt right for us, they would be treated as individuals and although we would make mistakes as parents, we would make them together and with the very best intentions, always. They are so very different, yet so similar! ( I pinched the eye idea from Lucy@Attic24).

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In our summer of moving on, I couldn’t be more filled with pride, love, joy and delight at my wonderful sons. I don’t mind saying, I feel we have done an awesome job so far. My heart is full and overflowing; it swells every time I think of the independent individuals our boys have become. As a Mum, I am also moving on.

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::Liebster Award nomination- woohoo::

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I have been lucky enough to be nominated by Amanda at Amjaylou for a Leibster award. This is a fabulous idea; you can get to know a little bit about your favourite blogs and also to find new blogs. I love it!

So here are the answers to Amanda’s questions, some random facts about me – (steady now!) and my nominations for awards of blogs I love, love, love.

1. How many WIP’s do you have at the moment?
I currently have 3 wip’s that have actually been started, but many many more in my head! Cushion love, blanket love, and bunting for my new nephews bedroom is a must before christmas!

2. What are they?
I have my kaleidoscope blanket Cal from The Natural Dye Studio ( christmas present from my lovely Hubby) which is coming along nicely, but takes lots of 3mm hook size concentration!20140510_094442

My ripple blanket for Doris Caravan in style craft DK Attic24 pack – which is a great pick up and carry on project.CAM00359

My peruvian poncho in Cascade 220 – which is a joy at 5mm size chunky, fabulous colours and grows so quickly.20140526_094026

I’m currently catching up with the May section of my kaleidoscope blanket (yes I know we’re in June, hence the reason for catching up!)

3. Regarding days out what would be your idea of heaven?

I love to visit the seaside and collect shells, stones, sea-glass and just to breath in the salty fresh air. Lying on my back on a beautifully crocheted blanket, guessing the shapes of the clouds, with the warm sun an a gentle breeze. We live 20 mins away from the West Cumbria coast so it’s great on a Sunday morning to plod along the beach, collect the Sunday papers and sometimes have a cheeky ice-cream in the local shop!20140615_113954

4. What would be your idea of hell?
End to end football, cycling, rugby- or actually Golf. I cannot stand Golf! Having to go and watch it , a whole day or more of it (the TV is bad enough) would be absolutely awful! Yuck! Argh!

5. What book are you reading at the moment?
As a year 6 teacher, I am constantly looking for great inspiring rears for my class and to motivate my reluctant boy readers to get into a good book. I have just completed Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve ( it was fabulous) and I am currently reading The Knife of never letting go by Patrick Ness and I LoVe LoVe it. My favourite personal text favourites are Tess of the D’Urbervilles and anything else by Hardy. Carlos Luis Zafon’s The shadow of the Wind is a firm favourite as is The Book Thief.

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6. What is your favourite tipple? ( can include non-alcoholic!)

A Mojito Mocktail – complete with lime juice, elderflower cordial, soda and a secret non-alcoholic ingredient from a bistro I love in my nearby town.

7. What’s been the best holiday you’ve been on so far?
A few years ago we took the boys aged 15 and 11 to Barcelona- it was amazing. I had been before 20 years ago and desperately wanted my family to see this wonderful city. It didn’t disappoint and they all loved it too. The Sagrada Familia was still unfinished and just as spectacular as I remember. Gaudi has always been a design inspiration to me and I felt quite emotional revisiting these beautiful buildings, Parc Guell and the amazing mosaics. The boys were thrilled to visit the Football stadium. Later, we travelled by hire car to a quiet fishing village up the coast and holidayed there with the french and spanish holiday makers. It was wonderful. A close second was our family holiday in Rome and Pompeii last year. As you can see- I love architecture!

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8. What is your dream destination?
I really want to visit Sydney, Australia and walk along the harbour, visit the opera house and take in the sights before travelling up to Cairns to the rest Barrier reef. We’re hoping to go next year.

9. What would you put into Room 101?
Tin openers and garlic presses. They never last very long, always break down when you need them, and become worse than useless right at the wrong moment!

10. Do you have a favourite TV chef?
I don’t have one chef that I like in particular- they all get a bit samey after a while I feel. But I do absolutely love watching MasterChef- the normal ones not the celebrities or the chefs one. Also, I’m a real Saturday Morning Kitchen fan- I rarely miss it.

11. What is your all-time favourite cake?
It has to be a good old fashioned lemon cheesecake- it just can’t be beaten. My mum makes an amazing cheesecake with preserved lemons chopped up into the creamy mixture and it has chocolate digestives for the base. It is divine!! (Note to self- get the recipe from my mum!)

Now to the 11 random facts about myself.
1.I am a trained textile designer and worked as a textile designer for The Burton Group before my children were born.
2. I play the cello and all three descant, treble and tenor recorders.
3. I love tulips- very, very, very much.
4. My favourite chocolate is Green and Blacks 75% dark- closely followed by Lindt salted caramel.
5. I run- and completed The Cumbrian Run in 2011 a long 13.1 miles in 2hrs. Very proud.
6. I have raised just under £5000 for Cancer Research in the last 4 years.
7. I have cycled the Coast to Coast cycle route- 142 miles in 3 days.
8. I have been a teacher for 10 years and a deputy Head for 2 of them.
9. I am still best friends with my child hood best friend who I met when we were 12.
10. I drive a VW Beetle.
11. The first album I bought, aged 14 was hatful of Hollow by the Smiths- I still have it as a very treasured possession.

My chosen favourite blogs.

Loopy Freak with a list
Little Room of Rachel
Fox’s Lane
Little Red Squirrel
Little woollie
Lulu loves Crochet
Haken en Meer
Eclectic Gypsyland
Little Tin Bird
Betty and Annie
Poppy and Bliss

My 11 questions for them
1. When and why did you start to craft (crochet, knit, sew, make?)
2. What are your favourite colour combinations?
3. What have been the last 3 things you have made?
4. What would be your dream holiday destination and why?
5. What is your favourite food?
6. Who do you most admire – past or present?
7. Who would be at your dream dinner party?
8. What advice would you give your 10 year old self?
9. If you could live in any country which one would it be and why?
10. what would be your favourite film?
11. What will your next project (s) be?

I hope my nominees enjoy this as much as I have! Wishing you all the very best of weekends. xx

:: Blue skies and wild flowers::

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We’re nearly at the end of our half term holiday and what a mixed bag it’s been: whistle stop trip to Edinburgh for a GCSE art project (don’t ask!), crochet, shopping, some school work and catching up with the returned-from-University-for-the-year child! Yes all done for the year! Sitting relaxing in the garden with my Kaleidoscope CAL blanket, listening to the birds twittering in the crab-apple tree above me, the cat purring near my feet and the sun warming my face, made me smile and just pause for a minute to savour life around me.

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As it was soooo pretty, today I went for a pootle around the locality (the village) with my Hubby in the lovely, gorgeous sunshine. What a fantastic day it has been; blue skies, really clear and sometimes just a whisp of white fluffiness to change the view, an abundance of wild flowers scattering their colourfulness in the hedgerows and fields. The hummmmmmm of tractors making their first cut of the season in the grassy fields taking advantage of the sunshine.

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We could see all the way over to Dumfries; it was a little hazy and shimmery in the heat over the Solway but the outline of the hills and Criefell could be seen. Beautiful; it made me smile and wish for the summer months to speed towards us with the promise of long walks along the beach, picnics in the fields near the lake, the rainy days in with the games and the long trip to France in the car, laden with holiday hopes and dreams. Oooooh I can smell and hear the markets now, with their stalls swollen with local produce – the cheese, the hams, the tomatoes!!!

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Now back to our walk. I’ll let you look at the pictures, they tell their own sunny, hedgerow story really. But doesn’t it make your heart swell and jump with delight when you get an unexpected day like today?  I love wild flowers and they last for such a short time, it is lovely to cherish and take notice of them while you can. Long, luscious sweeps of buttercups, wild orchids, clover, wild geraniums and tonnes of tiny forget-me-nots that were just a blur when the picture was taken. I wish you could have seen them. I hope you enjoyed your day. :O)xxx

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::Wasdale – Part two::

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It has taken me a couple of weeks I know to come back to this post about our Caravan trip to Wasdale – I have been so very busy with school, family and getting sorted that I almost forgot that I’d left this one just hanging there!!

Waking up in Doris the caravan in Wasdale was incredibly funny- the sun blazing through the windows (note to self, get blackout blinds) at 4am, was both lovely and conversely irritating. It did enable a quiet cup of tea and a little bit of crochet ripply happiness whilst J and little J slept. They didn’t even stir when I boiled the kettle – although I did catch it before it began to whistle it’s happy tune!

For day two we decided to go for a picnic up to a tarn adjacent to Scawfell Pike. My back was feeling lots better and although I wanted to have a good walk, I was conscious of not overdoing it.

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ImageImageImageThe tarn was a shimmering, flat, oasis in the middle of the grassy, bumpy, flatland between the fells.

The sky reflected beautifully and it was quite bizarre to find it nestled there 240m up!

The ground was very soggy so we sat on our coats to have our picnic.Image

There had been a deluge of water up there, only a few days before, and the sight of a big blob of Frogspawn, in the middle of the grassland confirmed how deep the water had been, but also how much it had receded. Unfortunately this bunch of early frog life wasn’t going to make it now, in the clear warm sun. I was assured that it wouldn’t be right for me to interfere with nature, as I tried to think of a way of returning these little guys to the water. J and Little J were right of course. It was nature’s way.

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The walk back was lovely, with that satisfying tired feeling of having accomplished something, physical tiredness as against the mental tiredness I experience mostly as a teacher. I enjoyed retracing our steps as we followed the cairns, seeing how the light had changed over the hours we had been walking, and also thinking of ice-cream rewards!!

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We returned to Doris, satisfied, hungry and ready for a snuggly caravan evening; a little bit more crochet ripples, good cups of tea, and we made plans for the next and final day of our mini-break.

We decided that we had weary legs, (well I did anyway) and so St. Bedes would be a great place to see. It is the  western start of the Coast to Coast walk, the Wainwright path, and also I had heard it was quaint and untouched. So off we went. It was a much more blustery day and we could feel the Western coast chill in the air.  I needed my hat!ImageImageImageImage

We climbed up the coastal path to see the sea and view the town below, feeling the cool air and the warmth of the sun on our faces. Lots of caravans in the static caravan park. It’s a bit of a shame that there was some vandalism and graffiti, which did put me off a bit really. The old part of the town, inland a little, was so much more piratey and smuggler-like. But as it started to rain we decided to go for a cup of coffee and cake instead.Image

 We ventured over the Gosforth Pottery for a souvenir of our trip and I bought a lovely hand thrown vase that now sits beautifully on my kitchen table with my favourite floral delights.Image

It has been lovely going away in our Doris caravan, and visiting Wasdale, my favourite part of the lakes. I have enjoyed being with J and Little J, sleeping almost outdoors, being away  from the rough and tumble of life during the working week, and most of all connecting to the beautiful countryside and drinking in it’s glamour, glory and power.

:: Wasdale Part One::

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Remember in my post, Weekend Relaxing, I mentioned purchases? Well the big purchase we made was a new-to-us Caravan. Meet Doris, she is my latest makeover project, (well the house is nearly finished), and as E said, “You’ve run out of places to crochet in the house so you need more space?” Maybe…. was my reply! Having camped in our super-large family tent since the boys were 5 and 8 years old, we have enjoyed many holiday trips, to the sea in Norfolk, Exeter and the Jurassic coast, and also to other parts of The Lake District. Getting a caravan seemed like the next step for us.

Our new-to-us caravan Doris. Now she is 30 years old, so classed as Retro or Classic instead of Vintage, and is in need of a makeover and a bit of a Mixture43 treatment, but she’s perfectly roadworthy and habitable. Lots and lots of beige… I’ll leave it at that!

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I used my Festival Granny Stripe Blanket and my Sunshine Granny Square Blanket to cheer her up for this trip and it certainly did the trick, along with a couple of homemade crochet cushions.Image

Ooooh did you spot my new book? It has some lovely inspirational caravan makeover pictures (but more of that later).

Once we’d got her ship-shaped – well caravan-shaped I should say, we settled down for an evening view of the area. It was a lovely Gold rated David Bellamy caravan and camping site near to the west coast at Seascale, so lots of flaura and fauna to look at and of course being in an Area of Outstanding beauty you wouldn’t expect anything other than beautiful things to look at!

 Just look at the view from Doris’s window!Image

Wasdale and nearby Eskdale fells and mountains were only a few miles away, so we plotted and planned our walking and ascent. We had such beautiful weather on our trip to the South Lakes Area of Wasdale. J and I visited there over twenty years ago (was it really so long ago?) and I have always thought it would be lovely to return, I hoped it would still be as beautiful as I had remembered. It is breathtakingly stunning. We looked out at the view over a homemade supper cooked on Doris’s stove top. We are going to have many adventures, it’s going to be great!

A little bit of morning snuggly ripply hooky in my Doris bed…Image

We decided that we would walk along the side of the Lake. As I was just recovering from an acute episode with my back… lets just say half an hour to get off the floor in excruciating pain and not standing up straight for what seemed like eternity (bottom out like a duck and sideways slant is never a good look), we thought that a flat-ish walk would be better. To be honest I really needed to move about too so I gritted my teeth and off we went.Image

It was such a lovely walk, peaceful, tranquil, silent even at times but for the flowing and rippling water and rustling leaves in the gentle breeze.

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The light casts such beautiful shadows on the fells and mountain, it’s quite Scandinavian to look at, well so I’ve ben told. I haven’t been there… yet!

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Skimming stones… you just have to at every opportunity, always a competition! Dad and son… who won? Not so little J of course!Image

You can see how far the water rose in the recent months with all of the wet and windy weather, in fact one of the locals told us it had been pouring down until only two days before, and he was heartily sick of rain! I’m not surprised with this much water , however it’s not called the Lake District or nothing!

Then there were the damaged trees…ImageImage

I was so proud of myself for walking along an undulating road and not a flat one as promised and my back did very well. In fact at times I forgot all about it what with the beautiful Wasdale scenery and sounds to look and listen to.

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After a little rest, some buttered hot crossed buns and a slurp of coffee, that we had in our rucsac, we set off back the other way. My back had warmed up by now and was actually beginning to sort itself out. I was feeling so much better and enjoying the chat, jokes and banter that was flowing back and forth from Little J and J. Oh my, how 15 year olds, (really my baby is 15?) can talk of such random things!

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I knew I wanted to go to the sea. I love being near the water, lakes, sea, streams, it is always so calming and reminds me of caravanning trips with my parents to Great Yarmouth, Poole in Dorset and Western Super-mare. I loved caravanning as a girl, the joy of hitching up and getting off, the waking up and remembering where you were in your cosy caravan bed. The return from school on a Friday evening and seeing the bags packed and ready for the off. My children are too old for that kind of excitement, but I have to say I was so overjoyed when little J decided to come with us, no wifi, no Xbox and all those other teenage boy toys. But he was very pleasantly surprised. He is outdoorsy too, I might add, so enjoys a good walk. And he does love water… he’s my water baby.ImageImage

Seascale is a quiet place, although being one of the starting places for the C2C cycle ride, it can get busy from Easter to October.  Last year E and J made that self same ride across the country cycling 142 miles in two days, they did Seascale to Whitby. Little J and I followed in the car with supplies, flapjacks and coffee. It was quite the adventure!

Anyhoo….  Seascale and the beach. Lots of lovely bits and bobs and ripples!!Image

Fish shaped stone, in a gorgeous shade of blue.ImageImageImage

We enjoyed an ice cream sitting on a bench looking at the sea. Then, with weary legs and a hungry tummy, we headed off back to Doris for the night.

The evening view from Doris was spectacular.

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The day ended with a Very satisfying ‘CLUNK’ as I laid down and snuggled in my Doris bed. The relief in my back was fantastic and having not slept so well for a week or more, I slept like a baby. Wasdale and Doris the Caravan had lived up to every dream and expectation I had and more.  Great times ahead.