The Heat Wave of 2018

I’ve not known a summer like this since I’ve lived here… so that’s almost 20 years in case anyone is counting!  The weather is warm (sometimes hot) and very dry.  The hose pipe bans have started and there are fires on the moorland – and on Bidston Hill too.  It’s been great weather for camping and walking though so I thought I’d give a little update of a couple of the things we got up to for the past few weeks.

We went for a  walk with Denis a couple of weeks back starting in Wilmslow.  There were lots of shady paths and it wasn’t one of the hottest days we’ve had which made it great for Stella.  Although 15 miles turned into 18, I still enjoyed it (but don’t tell Denis I did…it’s fun to tease him about this mileage increase!) One of the first stops along the route was Quarry Bank Mill and the Styal Estate.  Then we walked alongside the boundary of Manchester Airport and watched a few planes taking off.  We had a stop at the Merlin pub for lunch – that was a nice place and given that it was Father’s Day seemed to be a popular place for lunch.   There were also two ice cream stops and the last leg of the route was alongside a river which Stella was most pleased about.

We also had a camping trip to Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales with Nicola and Cathy and their families.  Nicola has a caravan that they keep there and we joined them to experience the delights of this little corner of Britain.  I do love the lovely coast line and turquoise colour of the water – it always feels to me like being abroad.  Paul and I took Friday off and travelled down in the morning stopping at Aberdaron.   This is a lovely little village with a nice beach, a great bakery and some lovely little shops including an ice cream shop!  After ice cream for me and a pie at the bakery for Paul, we headed to the beach for a little walk and play.  Stella loved running in and out of the surf playing ball.

We headed to the campsite where we found ourselves on a farm in a camping field to ourselves.  Stella was in heaven.  Even more so when the rest of the party joined us – more friends to play ball with.  On Saturday we went for a coastal walk – estimated distance 8 miles, actual distance 15).  There was ice cream, a pub stop and 3 beaches along the way.  We all felt we’d earned the sunny BBQ that night – lovely to sit chatting and still being warm outside.

We got up early the next day to come away so we were home in time for England’s second World Cup football game.  I came away with a couple of extra horse fly bites and sun burns on the back of both legs where I’d missed with the sunscreen but we both really enjoyed the weekend, the company of the others, the food, the walk and the weather.     The van does get a little toasty when the sun hits full power but it’s a small price to pay.  Our next van adventure is not too far away in a couple of weeks… it would be great if it was warm and dry but fingers crossed for temperatures in the low 20s rather than the high 20s!

 

I would walk 500 miles…. Or maybe 21…

This weekend we participated in a 21 mile challenge walk called the Silverdale Circuit in Cumbria/Lancashire.  It was neat to explore a new area of the country and some of the views from the paths we were on were beautiful.  The weather was also very kind to us, however, as with the last challenge walk we did in January, I felt very rushed to finish before it got dark.  This feeling was exaggerated, particularly at the beginning, when there were lots of people around you also seemingly rushing along as well….

In the end I’m pleased we finished so quickly – 6.5 hours and well before the 5pm deadline – but I don’t think I could have walked any faster than that.  I was also happy with the place we stayed in while we were up there which was just a short walk to the start of the walk and I particularly enjoyed the Chinese takeaway we had on Saturday night after the walk.

But please remind me not to sign up for any more of these walks!  I spent a good few weeks worrying about my ability to complete the event in the required time.  I was similarly anxious last time.  Coming up to the event, I was dreading it and although it turned out not be as bad as I thought, I am glad it is over… Another negative was that I didn’t take any pictures which is one of the things I like most about walking – I decided against carrying the camera that distance and I also thought I’d probably be too rushed to stop to take pictures anyways (correct assumption).

On the positive side, I liked the area so much that I have suggested to the Palm Hill planning committee that we might go there again in the summer in the campervan and spend a bit more time exploring.

On the way home, we took the coast road through Blackpool and Lytham St. Anne’s.  That made a change from the motorway although the tide was in so there was no chance of Stella getting on the sand no matter how badly she wanted to…

I like Ludlow

Our second camping trip of the year was to Ludlow in Shropshire and I have to say I was quite enamoured by the place… For me, it is quintessentially English.  The town is very pretty with lots of character in the buildings and streets… The surrounding countryside has rolling hills and pastures with sheep grazing.  If I needed to show a picture of England to someone who had never been, I think I would choose to show a picture of Ludlow.

We arrived on Friday night in great time after Paul managed to get away early from work.  It was warm enough to sit outside while he practiced his guitar… A guitar session on a camping trip – that was a first.

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Saturday morning we had another first – our first thunderstorm in the van.  At about 6am, the van was lit up by a spectacular show of lightening as the thunder rumbled around.  That was something.

After the storm, we walked to a nearby forestry commission park before heading into the town centre where we browsed around the shops, had some ice cream and had a little look around the market.  Showers continued on and off for the day but we got a few really nice spells especially while we toured the castle…

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On Sunday morning we left the campsite and stopped at Church Stretton for a walk in and around the Long Mynd.  The skies were very dramatic and the paths were really clear and good underfoot making for a very enjoyable walk.

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I really enjoyed the weekend and am very glad we chose Ludlow as our destination.  I’m not sure we’ll be back too near in the future with so many other places on our list of places we want to go to but it certainly won’t be our last visit to Ludlow…

 

Bank holiday weekend bests and favourites

We enjoyed our late may bank holiday weekend mostly spent pretty quietly at home. Here is a short list of the bests and favourites of the weekend with a least favourite, disappointment thrown in for good measure… 😉

Favourite walk: On Monday morning at Bidston Hill. The light and the reflections were really nice for photographs and Stella loved it too.

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Favourite meal: Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne.

Favourite movie: The Hunger Games. I found it a bit disturbing at first but then I got used to it. We watched it using our recently set up, free trial Netflix subscription.

Best reuse: Shifting 1 tonne of unwanted soil from a garden in Wallasey to our front garden to fill up our retaining walls. All it cost was a few emails to arrange the collection and the fuel needed to get there and back.

Best exercise: Saturday morning Pilates in the hot room in Moreton. As usual, the next day I had aches in muscles I didn’t even know I had.

Best music: Listening to Paul practice the guitar. It’s sounding really nice and smooth – all that practice is definitely paying off.

Least favourite activity: Making liver cake for Stella. I must really love her….

Biggest disappointment: The weather. Yuck. At least it cheered up for Monday.

Biggest celebrations: On Sunday we got sight of the two medals (each) Ella and Hannah won in Tae Kwon Do last weekend. And also a very Happy Birthday to Lauren and to Robert!

Let the birthday celebrations begin!

It was the first of Paul’s birthday parties on Saturday when Jayne, Paul and the kids came over for dinner.  There were presents and lots of cards including ones made by the kids to a very high standard.  We had some cake and games of hide and seek too, of course. 

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Earlier in the week, I took another step in the development of my photography skills when I hired some studio time and learned about how to use the lights and space and take portrait style pictures.  I have never been that interested in taking portraits in a studio but it was really good not to have to worry about lighting and just focus on taking pictures.  Capturing candid images though was quite hard…. I’d like to have another go so if there are any suitable volunteers who wouldn’t mind having their picture taken, let me know….! 😉 These are my favourite pictures from the session. 

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Plans to take a trip to Manchester on Sunday were cancelled and instead I enjoyed a sunrise walk with Stella and Paul followed by a gym session, some piano playing and theory, a bit of “proper” work and a lovely warm fire and movie in the evening.   

It appears that the only casualty of last weekend’s rather wet walk was my iphone.  It got wet in the pocket of my waterproof jacket (how does that happen?) and has not switched on since.  Fortunately, it is now with the insurers for repair/replacement.  It is a big miss though – surprising how you get used to these things.  I will be glad to have it back.  J