Big.

P1170509

I wasn’t thinking of the Tom Hanks film. Nor of the outrageously good ‘Big Chief’ by New Orleans maestro Professor Longhair.

P1170514

Not even of big children, although they do insist on growing up despite my insistence that they should slow down a bit.

The phrase ‘big kid’ was on my mind a little…

P1170517

…usually it’s the children who have to be encouraged to leave the play ground in the caravan park so that we can get on.

P1170522

On this occasion, it was the children all piling onto the swing and making it uncomfortable which persuaded TBH that it was time to move.

P1170523

This is not a big castle…

P1170525

…although I suspect it was once quite an impressive Pele Tower. Nor was our walk particularly huge; we were only going to Arnside and even then, not around the coast, but over the Knott, because we were late setting off (as ever) and wanted to reach Arnside for a late lunch.

The flooding on Silverdale Moss was quite impressive…

P1170526

…but that’s not what I had in mind.

P1170527

Arnside Tower Farm.

P1170530

Panorama from the Knott.

Arnside Knott is certainly not a big hill, although it does boast expansive views.

P1170535

Incidentally, this is the boys new favourite tree – The Ladder Tree – which has at least partially supplanted the tree at the top of the post in the boys affections. B actually climbed much higher than this but this photo shows why they call it the ladder tree – because of the handy series of evenly spaced branches which have grown across between the twin trunks.

By the time we reached Arnside it was very late for lunch, but the cafes were all still heaving. We managed to get seats in The Old Bakery (the Pie Shop to us) only to find that they were out of both Sausage Rolls and vegan options. We decamped and ended up in The Big Chip Cafe, adjoining the Fish and Chip Shop. At this point I have to say that I am full of admiration for those people who have the forbearance to photograph their food before they eat it. By rights, there should be a highly appealing photo of a fish supper here, but I’d eaten it before it occurred to me to take a picture. You’ll have to imagine it. Very nice it was too. Ages since I’ve had fish and chips. I can heartily recommend the haddock and chips (and the small portion is quite big enough).

So: The Big Chip Cafe explains the post title. Except….

P1170539

…when we left the cafe it was evidently too late to fulfil my design to get a walk around the coast. We took a shorter route which sort of curled up and around the Knott. And the big, late-afternoon, winter skies…

P1170541

Were fantastic.

When we reached Eaves Wood, I couldn’t persuade the others to come back up to the Pepper Pot with me.

P1170543

Big mistake.

P1170546

Even though the sun had long since set, it was a perfect, still evening and the views were superb.

P1170547

Bit cold though. I eventually stumbled down through the dark woods and home to listen to the dub version of Black Uhuru’s ‘Right Stuff’, which, due to the curious workings of my grey matter, the Big Chip always puts me in mind of.

P1170555

So maybe it was the Big Chip, or perhaps the big skies, or possibly the Black Uhuru song, or probably some combination of them all. Who knows?

Now: Fish supper with – mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy, tartar sauce, ketchup or none of the above?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Advertisements
Big.

He’s Behind You!

P1170426

Coniston Fells from Arnside Knott.

Three walks, from a weekend most memorable because the children were all appearing in the pantomime with the Silverdale Village Players. Oh no they weren’t! Oh yes they….etc etc ad infinitum.

Early on the Saturday morning I wended my way down to Leighton Moss. Wishful thinking on my part – I thought I might repeat the marvellous experience of a few days before.

P1170421

But although it started bright, it soon clouded over and became very dull.

P1170420

Not only did I not see any Otters, even the small birds and ducks which had been so abundant seemed absent. Or perhaps they were all just circling behind me and gurning at the audience in fine panto style?

On the Saturday might, as we left the Gaskell Hall after watching the performance, it was snowing quite heavily. By the following morning however, most of the snow had gone.

P1170424

Kent Estuary and Eastern Fells from Arnside Knott.

After four successive nights of performances, all of which finished quite late, the kids were exhausted and I couldn’t prevail on any of them to join me for a short stroll on Arnside Knott.

P1170425

Panorama looking towards the Lakes from Arnside Knott.

P1170431

Later, I was out again – to The Cove naturally.

P1170435

I’m nothing if not predictable. Oh no you’re not! Oh yes I ….etc etc. Until next Christmas.

He’s Behind You!

If It’s Not Broke…

P1160965

The Thursday of half-term, the weather forecast was set fair, so we had decided to get out for a walk (well, four of us anyway, TBH was back at work, Cumbria having had their half-term a week earlier). I think it was Little S who first mooted a local stroll, pointing out the advantage of not wasting time in the car. So it was that we set off on a very familiar route: up to the Pepper Pot, via ‘The Climbing Tree’, around the coast…

P1160966

…and along the Kent to Arnside…

P1160968

For lunch in the Pie Shop, or the Old Bakery as I think it’s properly known (sadly, it transpires that they don’t do giant Scotch Eggs midweek much to my disappointment).

And then home over Arnside Knott.

P1160977

P1160976

Arnside Knott Panorama – click on the photo, or any others, to see an enlarged version on flickr.

It’s a route we’ve walked, with slight variations, many, many times before, but so far none of us has tired of it. Photos of the kids in the tree at the top of the post are a staple of this blog; the tree hasn’t changed much over the last ten years, not the kids enthusiasm for climbing in it or swinging from its limbs. When they were tiny, I worried that when they were older they would be climbing way out of sight and terrifying me, but although they still like to climb it, they don’t seem any more intrepid now than they were then, not that I am complaining. In fact, when she was just a tot, A climbed along that left-hand branch to well past where B is sat in the picture and then declared herself stuck, and I had a merry time coaxing her down. It’s good that they still enjoy clambering around in trees, although I did get a bit chilled on the Knott waiting for them whilst they explored the possibilities of a tree they hadn’t climbed before. At least I had the view to distract me from the cold.

Elsewhere, we found great piles of leaves and B found some pretext, an imagined slight, to begin a leaf war, so we charged around kicking them into the air and just occasionally managing to successfully shower them over another member of the party. Another childish pleasure which they haven’t grown out of. And, to be fair, neither have I it seems.

 

 

 

If It’s Not Broke…

Yummy Apple Pie

IMG_2053

Our friends J, E and C came to visit for a weekend. It rained. That can happen of course, especially here in the North Wet of England. We decided to enjoy ourselves anyway. On the Saturday we walked over to the pie shop in Arnside for a late lunch. I’m not sure that anybody actually sampled the yummy apple pie, but I think everybody enjoyed what they did have. The apparent small hedgehog in the front of the photo above is, in fact, a large Scotch Egg. I had one of those for my lunch, with some salad. It was both the biggest and the tastiest Scotch Egg I’ve ever had.

TBH had managed to double book herself that day and was also supposed to be out for her monthly walk with another friend, Dr R. That was a problem easily solved though: we killed two birds with one stone and Dr R joined us for our pie shop outing.

The weather was, as I say, hardly optimal…

IMG_2047

And the views from the Knott were less extensive than usual….

IMG_2048

There was a deal of mud to contend with…

IMG_2037

But everyone seemed to be happy…

IMG_2041

B meanwhile, couldn’t wait for his pie and decided to investigate the flavour of Sloes, despite my warnings…

IMG_2046

Trepidation.

IMG_2043

Consternation.

IMG_2044

Tribulation. “It’s not Fry’s”.

If you’ve never tried a Sloe, well, to say that they are tart is something of an understatement. They’re also packed with tannic acid and do something strange to your tongue and the roof of your mouth – imagine taking the most over-brewed tea you’ve ever tasted, and then boiling off some of the liquid to make a more concentrated liquor, that just might have a similar effect.

If you haven’t tried Fry’s Chocolate Cream, or the ‘Five Boys’ bar, well you’re probably a bit late. Fry’s was bought by Cadbury’s, which got swallowed in turn, and now they’re produced in Poland apparently, and I imagine they aren’t quite what they once were. It was the first mass produced chocolate bar, according to Wikipedia at least.

This must have been a very successful advertising campaign. The image has certainly always stuck with me. The Harris family, who lived across the road from us when I was a boy, had this on the wall in their hall. I wonder if it was a print, or if, as I suspect, an original enamel advert. Dave Harris, the pater-familias, loved antiques. He collected earthenware jars and Codd bottles, which I think he unearthed himself, digging in likely spots with another neighbour, Charlie Tear.

TBH, incidentally, loves Fry’s Turkish delight, and usually gets some at Christmas, but since it doesn’t fit in with her new vegan regime, will have to make do with something else this year. Which gives me a great idea for a present – it’s a good job she rarely reads my witterings!

Anyway, I digress. I can’t recall what we did on the Sunday, but I didn’t take any photos, so I imagine that the weather was even less conducive to walking and that we mainly relaxed in our kitchen. It was a very relaxing weekend all round. It’s always good to see J and her daughters.

Yummy Apple Pie

Brew with a View

P1160430

Alpkit had a sale; I was in possession of  Alpkit credit notes: an irresistible combination. I  bought a gas stove, which the Hard Man had recommended when we were camping in the Howgills earlier this year, and also a folding windshield and a titanium mug. The stove and the windshield will probably get lots of use on family outings, but, in honesty, the mug is a self-indulgent treat.

Anyway, on the evening that the new kit arrived in the post, I heard that the tide was in at Arnside and decided to field test my new toys. Time was short, so I drove to park just above Arnside Tower farm and then stomped up the Knott, hoping not to have missed the sunset.

P1160429

In the event, low cloud in the western sky meant that I couldn’t see the sun, but the river, brimful as promised, was flat calm and reflecting the sky, so I set the stove to boil and settled down to enjoy the tranquility.

P1160435

New kit at work.

P1160439

It was enormously restful; a great way to chill out for half an hour after a day at work.

P1160445

New gear.

P1160446

New gear bagged and ready for the off.

Brew with a View

The Benefits of Volunteering

P1150895

Having started with the title, I realised that other people might have had something to say on this topic and so, after a little lazy internet research, have discovered that volunteering will make me live longer, with more friends, less stubborn belly fat, better mental health and enhanced career prospects. Wow. And I was only thinking of the fact that volunteering had brought me out of an evening to Arnside Knott and put me in the right spot to witness a spectacular sunset. Although I should add that it had previously put me in the right spot to see the Scotch Argus* in the company of knowledgable people who recognised it as such and had also meant that I had been shown the Spiked Speedwell, another Arnside Knott rarity. Oh, and to being given a tip on where to find Lesser Butterfly Orchids next summer.

P1150903

This was the second of three sessions of flora surveying on Redhill Pasture, this time with just our team of three volunteers, without the expert guidance from the National Trust, who own the land, or Morecambe Bay Partnerships, who are coordinating various such surveys around the Bay. The surveying didn’t begin so auspiciously – I’d walked over from home and we’d met in the car park on the Knott before walking down to continue our survey. We soon discovered that the Meadow Ants were swarming. The air was full of winged ants and circling gulls, presumably taking advantage of a bonanza of insect prey. I was soon covered in ants, and then discovered that they were inside my shirt as well as all over the surface. I’ve read that meadow ants can’t bite or sting humans, but I can only report that the next morning I was covered in angry red lumps. Must have been psychosomatic. We were working on quadrats roughly two metres by two metres and by the third I was just about ready to give up, but fortunately, when we moved a little way uphill for the fourth, the number of ants about became bearable again. We found that, after our training sessions, we were able to work with reasonable speed and confidence and had soon progressed to the areas of Blue Moor Grass along the top edge of the pasture from where we witnessed the sunset.

*It only occurs to me now that, in Greek mythology, Argus is a one-hundred eyed giant. Since the Scotch Argus has several eyes around the rim of its wings perhaps this explains the name. Or it might do, except for the fact that the Brown Argus and the Northern Brown Argus (both unrelated to the Scotch Argus) don’t have the eyes. Oh well, nice theory, but more research needed perhaps.

The Benefits of Volunteering

Scotch Argus Butterfly.

P1150838

Not my best butterfly photo I’ll admit, but very pleasing for me because this is my first Scotch Argus. Despite the name, this butterfly is found in two colonies in England – one at Smardale Gill and the other on Arnside Knott. This one was spotted at the latter – I was there with a small group doing some initial surveying of the flora of Redhill Pasture, the large open field on the north side of the Knott.

Scotch Argus Butterfly.