In which we climb England’s sixth highest mountain

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Last week S and I took a week off work and headed off on a Northern road trip. First stop was Leeds, for the joint reasons of seeing S’ family (including our lovely nearly two year old niece) and also watching the Tour de France’s Grand Depart. While it wasn’t as exciting as seeing the mountain stage last year, it was still fun to be a part of such a big event, and to get our share of the random free stuff chucked out from the caravan. Shame the Brits are having such a bad year!

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The following day we headed up to the Lake District to camp it up for a few days. It’s not an area I’ve ever explored properly, so I was stunned at how absolutely gorgeous it is there. Sparkling water juxtaposed with brooding mountains – just beautiful. The glorious sunshine helped to make it feel even more Alpine.

Our campsite was on the edge of Lake Ullswater, so we were greeted with this view every time we unzipped the tent.

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The plan was to climb Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, which would have brought our Three Peaks total up to two thirds. But unlike Snowdon, Scafell Pike is actually pretty hard to find and not actually signposted or anything. I know that sounds really stupid, but it’s dead easy to find Snowdon – there’s a railway, a tourist centre, some very clearly marked paths. Scafell Pike is just one of a mass of mountains, and while we had a walkers map showing us how to get there, we seriously underestimated how long it would take us to walk down from the Langdale side and reach the summit. After hiking for a couple of hours and realising it wasn’t going to happen, we settled instead for climbing Bow Fell, which at 902m is still nothing to be sneezed at. I’ve heard that Scafell is actually the hardest of the Three Peaks to climb, due to the loose rocks, and if it’s anything like Bow Fell I can see why. We were on our hands and feet for the last few metres, delicately picking a path through large stones to make it to the top. (The view and sense of achievement was worth it, however.) We realised afterwards that it would have been better to approach Scafell Pike from the Wasdale side, which the internet also backs up, so it’s on the list for next time!

To rest our aching muscles the next day (as a result of seven hours of walking over rough terrain, including a quite nasty two hours of descending over rocks which was not my favourite part of the day), we became proper Lake District tourists and headed to Windermere for a mooch around the town, a cream tea and a trip around the lake, which was just lovely. I also bought a piece of Kendal mint cake, but managed to not succumb to anything Beatrix Potter related!

And although when we came back on Wednesday we spent the rest of our holiday doing DIY, we also a friend over for dinner on the Saturday night, I caught up with another good friend in Knaresborough for a few hours, and our bifold doors were finally completed, making it a very good week indeed.

In which there are things that have happened recently

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 – I turned 32, complete with two nights out with friends, a delicious meal with my parents, flowers, cava, a chocolate birthday card (excellent invention!) and not one but two new pairs of sunglasses.

 – Our friends got married on one of the sunniest days of the year in a pretty Hampshire church. There were many hats (including my own), and then we drank pink fizz at a tithe barn while listening to a traditional jazz band. Very English, very lovely.

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My hat on our hatstand which our friend borrowed for the occasion

 – We booked our flights for our big summer holiday, ten days in Croatia and Montenegro in August-September. Our rough itinerary is a couple of days at Lake Plitvice, couple of days in Dubrovnik, a week driving around Montenegro. If you have any tips or must-sees let me know!

 – I started a new job, swapping cross stitching for cakes and knitting. I’ve therefore spent the past two weeks getting very, very hungry whilst cooing over pictures of cute babies in jumpers.

 – Over at the new house we built an internal wall, replaced skirting boards and sent off our planning permission for the balcony. And picked about half a hundredweight of raspberries from the now jungle-esque garden.

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 – Enjoyed the glorious June weather that we’ve been treated to, by having dinner in the garden, drinking cider by the water and going canoeing in Lansdowne Harbour (accidentally sunburning my knees at the same time, oops.)

In which there are some sub headings

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You know when there’s so much going on recently that you don’t know where to start? My head is so full of different things at the moment that sub headings will definitely come in handy here.

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The plum tree in our new garden in blossom earlier this year

The new house

We’ve been working super hard for the past few months and have made massive progress in a number of areas, from wallpaper stripping to completely demolishing an interior wall and putting up a lintel. For the latter, my dad, civil engineer and building surveyor extraordinaire, kindly did the calculations required to ensure the house wouldn’t fall down, and then he, my mom and my brother came down for the weekend to help us actually do the deed. Teamwork really did make the dream work, as by Saturday night the wall was down, the lintel was in (and we were knackered).

The house has also now been re-wired, so is no longer a fire hazard, and at the moment the plumber is working his magic on a central heating system, with the bathroom fitter and woodburner fitter hot on his heels later this week. We’ve ordered windows and bi-fold doors, the kitchen fitter is primed and waiting, and we should hopefully be making a decision soon about our balcony. S and I have the week off following Easter and are hoping to get some more stuff done, including removal of the mini mountain of rubble in our back garden and doing bonding around the new electrical sockets (i.e. putting a thick first layer of plaster in before the real plasterer makes it all smooth and shiny). Not the most scintillating of jobs, but all things that get us a step further to actually being able to move in. And I continue to thank my lucky stars that we have a warm, cosy house to return to once we’ve done with DIY for the day, that has central heating and warm water and sockets that don’t present a danger to life and limb.

My job

I had a feeling that once I accepted a job with this company that good things would come from it, and I was right: I’ve been offered another maternity contract which flows seamlessly from my current role, as an editor on two craft magazines. I’ll be starting my new job at the start of June, and am very excited to be entering the world of cakes and knitting. I’m also hoping that there will be freebies!

Life in general

The weather is warming up and, as always, the weeks are flying by. There’s a lot of lovely stuff coming up soon and over the next few weeks – time off over Easter, a visit from best friend Z all the way from Australia, a friend’s hen, a trip to Edinburgh to see my friend and meet her new baba. And of course, the promise of balmy nights by the water, barbecues in the sunshine, hot air balloons in the sky, being able to wear flip flops – all the things that make a Bristol summer so lovely.

So there you go – that’s me in a nutshell. How are you all doing?

In which there is a recipe for a great Sunday

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Take two slightly tired people. Marinate them in a delicious breakfast of huevos rancheros before putting in a car for ninety minutes. Remove once the car has arrived at the seaside.

Add one scoop of raspberry pavlova ice cream, one double caramel Magnum and a walk along the seafront with vividly turquoise water. Leave out in glorious sunshine for four hours until ever so slightly pink and fully refreshed.

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