Monday, July 25, 2022

Aran Jumpers

A selection of little Aran jumpers knitted recently. Two are basically the same pattern but with a different central panel.

Because these are for the 20inch chest size they take only 200grams of yarn and just over a week to knit, working only in the evenings while watching tv.  

Amazing what a difference a small detail, such as a different edging or set of buttons, makes to the effect of the finished piece.  My aim has been to use up buttons from the button box, so some are similar but not the same.  

All will go to charity, with a view to keeping a toddler warm if the family are saving on heating costs.  They are very satisfying projects to knit.  There's something about the rhythm of those simple cables which keeps my interest.


Monday, July 04, 2022

St Bees Head

 Although I was born and raised not ten miles from St Bees, I have never been to the cliff-top walk before.  I have eaten ice-creams on the beach there and looked up at the cliffs but never actually seen the view from the top.

It was a brilliantly sunny day with the sea a shimmering blue on the day that we made the trip this time.  To get there you drive to the red sandstone village of Sandwith - pronounced Sannith - and turn up a private road to a farm and, further than that, a light-house.  Parking at the farm was clear enough but not the onward path which turned out to be through a gated off section of road full of cows with suckler calves -  something one would wish to avoid.

Once through we headed for light-house and the coastal path. 


In the distance, the Isle of Man was dimly outlined.  Near  at hand the sea was boiling with auks - guillemots and razorbills.

The RSPB has made three secure viewpoint enclosures from which to get an angle on the vertical stacks where the birds nest.  In one of these two doughty Scots had set up camp with a telescope and long-lensed camera trained on the grassy mound topping the cliff.  If those were puffin burrows and if puffins were in residence they were in position to record the evidence.  We never saw them.

What we did see was guillemots crowded on the narrow ledges.

And gulls feeding large chicks on the grassy tops.

We saw fulmars in flight and even a gannet cruising past.  

We certainly smelt the guano from all the seabirds.

And then we drove down to the beach and enjoyed an ice-cream.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Old Parish Churches.

 Not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps, but faced with a wet and windy walk we decided to do some exploring using  Mike Salter's book  "Old Parish Churches of Cumbria".

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

First we drove to Torpenhow, a village near Wigton.  The parish church, built 1120, was large with massive pillars and really impressive Norman arches - but very dark.  The deep window embrasures show how thick the walls are - this building made use of stone from Old Carlisle, a Roman settlement.

 At the top of the pillars, grotesque, Romanesque carvings showing the damned writhing in torment on one side and, on the other, the virtuous  rejoicing at being spared.   Dark interiors do not make good photos but this was an atmospheric space, surprising for a small country parish.

Next, a complete contrast in the abandoned old church at Ireby.  It is literally across a field and buried in unmown grass, but not a ruin and still maintained. 

 Only the chancel still exists.  Two columns which once supported the nave were recovered from the village where they were being used as gateposts.

Inside, this carved stone dated 1606, commemorating a gentleman who served Elizabeth, James and Charles.

On to Boltongate where the church, built 1400, stands on a rise with a fine view of the fells. 

The interior here appears more traditional than Torpenhow - until you look up.  Then you see the very impressive high barrel-vaulted roof, following, apparently, a style used in Provence.  

A traditional stained glass window.

And a modern one made by a local maker who also made the one in Caldbeck church. Notice the Good Shepherd dressed as a Cumbrian, and the very apt wording.

All of these churches were originally dual-purpose, needing to be defensive structures against raiding parties from the North. 

We can see much more church tourism in our future.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Brackenthwaite How

To Cumbria, in better weather than on our last visit in May.  Foxgloves against drystone walls are a particular favourite.

 A recently developed walk takes you to the top of Brackenthwaite How, a viewpoint favoured by the Victorians.  It certainly gives  wonderful panoramic views without very much effort in the ascent.

Looking back down Crummock.

and across to Grasmoor.

We relocated a mile or so down the lake to Cinderdale Common, and took a short walk to the foot of Rannerdale for our lunch stop.

After lunch I decided to try following the footpath leading straight uphill to this series of waterfalls. 

 It must be spectacular after heavy rain.

A week's worth of knitting: a toddler cardigan in Aran weight.  This was fun to knit and looks very wearable.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Clematis Montana

The laburnum at the bottom of our garden, in full bloom  Beneath it, the clematis montana smothering a viburnum.

But look closer.  At the very top of the laburnum, there is the montana, making the most of the best light.  This is the first year it has done this.

Here, a Daniel Deronda climbing up a gate repurposed from the bottom of the garden.

And this is my latest finished work: a little Aran jacket, intended for someone to warm up their toddler. .  It will go to Knit For Peace.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Backtracking a little, in late March we took a trip up to Cumbria, leaving Essex in brilliant sunshine, with above average temperatures, and arriving in Cumbria to find a bitter chill.  Baby lambs were arriving everywhere nonetheless.

St Bega's Church on Bassenthwaite, in a lovely location.

This is Causey Pike, with its distinctive crinkle top here just frosted with snow.  We have memories of the hair-raising scramble to reach the top.

Parking at Lanthwaite Woods, we walked down to the shingle beach at the foot of Crummock, on a gloriously sunny day 

Another day took us to Caldbeck - this is the church where John Peel is buried.  And once again we were delighted to find the church open to visitors.  


A modern stained glass window in memory of a local pharmacist - note the pestle and mortar and the many medicinal herbs featured.


We have seen dippers on the river at Caldbeck over many years.  This one was happy to pose for us.

In Caldbeck church the curate suggested another church in their group of parishes, this one at Castle Sowerby,  a simple structure in a remote location.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

A little outing to Argers Fen, just over the Suffolk border.  It's bluebell time of course.

This is ancient woodland with wild cherry trees in full bloom.

A lovely walk up hill and down dale, then a short drive to the magnificent church at Stoke by Nayland.  We sat on a convenient bench to eat our picnic and studied the brickwork of the tower.

Then, another short drive took us to Dedham where we had a cup of tea, admiring this wonderful white wisteria, well out even this early.