Exploding Kittens


The Cove on Boxing Day.

We spent Christmas at home here in Silverdale. My mum and dad and my brother and his family came to stay for the week. We packed a fair bit in: walks, turkey, stuffing, lots of games, trampolining (well, not all of us), a trip to the flicks, turkey pie, a get together with two of our cousins and their families, a take-away curry (no turkey in sight), more games, more walks, far too much chocolate etc.

The very serious expressions here…


…don’t really convey how funny the card game Exploding Kittens is to play. We also played: Fives-and-Threes, One-armed Pete, Mexican Train (all dominoes), Camel Super Cup, Code Names (picture version), Tension, Caboodle, Pictionary, and probably several others which I have temporarily forgotten.

My own current favourite of the new games we bought each other is Kingdomino which we’ve played quite a bit since Christmas and which, especially with just two players, really makes you think, whilst being easy to understand and quick to play.


At the Pepper Pot on Christmas Day.

On Boxing Day we had a fairly long walk, about 5 miles, to the cove, across the Lots, through Bottom’s Wood to Woodwell, along the clifftop path to the Green, through Burtonwell Wood to the rift cave, on to The Row and home through Eaves Wood.


The weather started bright, but rain clouds were building and, whilst we didn’t get wet, it did cloud over. Still, a lovely stroll and there was more to come…

Exploding Kittens

Jack O’Lanterns


Halloween, and the chance to carve pumpkins, brings out both the artistic and the competitive spirit in the family. Here are the results.


B and I both elected to carve ours all the way around, making several faces or images, and so wiled away most of an afternoon working on them.


Have to say, I enjoyed myself immensely.


I stopped short, though, of getting dressed up to join them for trick-or-treating.


It’s American I know, and perhaps I should bemoan the demise of apple-bobbing and such-like (although we did used to play messy games of that sort with our kids when they were younger), but the kids put a lot of effort into their outfits and make-up and enjoy seeing their friends out and about, and don’t seem to do any harm whilst they’re out.


Later in the week, my Mum brought us another pumpkin (from Lincolnshire she would want you to know) and I scooped out the flesh, fried it with some other veg, mixed in some rice, put it all back into the pumpkin and finally baked the whole thing, and it was surprisingly palatable – I’ve always assumed we made lanterns with them because they aren’t much cop to eat.


Jack O’Lanterns

Yummy Apple Pie


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…


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


There was a deal of mud to contend with…


But everyone seemed to be happy…


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






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

Gurnal Dubs


Gurnal Dubs.

Something close to a Proper Walk to report on tonight, so I shall attempt a Proper Post to do it justice. This was still, however, another case of making-the-most-of-a-window-of-opportunity provided by Taxi Dad duties; it’s just that this was a slightly longer window than usual, and in a location with lots of potential for a good walk. It was a Sunday in early October, so ordinarily I would have been ferrying one or both of the boys to a rugby practice or match, but B had elected to take part in a charity mountain bike ride with his Scout group instead. Here he is…


…in Staveley Mill Yard, before the ride. And here again…


…afterwards. He’s disappointed with this second photo, because, he tells me, it doesn’t show the full extent of the cuts and bruises he picked up. Nor does it convey just how wet and muddy he and his bike had become.

They were raising money for Papyrus, a charity which works to prevent young suicide. Since then, B has also participated in a night hike over our local 3 peaks: Arnside Knott, The Pepper Pot and Warton Crag. There’s a collective JustGiving page here, should you feel inspired to sponsor B.


Reston Scar and part of Staveley from Spy Crag.

I had a few hours, then, whilst I waited for his return, and set off on a beeline for Potter Fell and its tarns.



The initial blue skies and and strong sunshine slowly disappeared behind a layer of cloud, but, fortuitously, the cloud cleared again just after I’d arrived at Gurnal Dubs, where I intended to break for lunch and a brew.


The very tidy boat house on Gurnal Dubs.


The tarns here were dammed and enlarged to supply water to the paper-mill at Burneside. The mill belongs to James Cropper PLC, set-up in 1845 by a man of that name and still managed by the Cropper family. I wondered whether J.A.C. might be the James  Cropper who managed the company relatively recently, a descendent presumably of the original James. Whoever owns it, I imagine it’s a lovely spot for boating; it was certainly a very pleasant place for lunch.


I had leftovers from the evening before: humus, guacamole, roasted carrot dip (very peanutty, nobody but me liked it), crudities, and a little bit of fried chorizo. TBH and A had recently embarked on a Vegan October. A Vegan October, I might add, which has now lasted right through November too, and which shows no sign of coming to an end any time soon. The Dangerous Brothers are beginning to adjust, but, back then, were not very supportive of the idea, and the fried chorizo was one of my attempts to placate them.

Whilst I tucked into my lunch and made a brew, a family of three arrived, changed into wetsuits and swam in the tarn. I’ve visited Gurnal Dubs many times, but it’s never really occurred to me to consider it as a place to swim. Next time, however…


Potter Tarn with the Coniston Fells behind..

Eventually, I headed back to Potter Tarn and then turned south past Ghyll Pool.


It was noticeably Waxcap season, with small fungi half-hidden in the grass in many places along my walk.


Crimson Waxcaps.


Meadow Waxcaps.


Apparently, these are quite nice to eat, although they are also under threat and so perhaps best left alone..


The striking green of the grass growing in this old nest really stood out against the bracken covered hillsides and red haws on the small thorn tree.



I liked the cheery request on this gate. That’s Cunswick Scar above Kendal behind.


I’m guessing this is a Common Darter, an older female perhaps. It also liked the gate.


Big barn at Hundhowe.


I anticipated having a choice of which bank of the Kent to follow back into Staveley, but the bridge at Hagg Foot was washed away by the floods of Storm Desmond and hasn’t been repaired, so I stuck to the north bank and the woods of Beckmickle Ing.


River Kent.


A posh stile with handrails.


A handsome tree (and house) on the outskirts of Staveley.

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Gurnal Dubs

A Brief Visit to Foulney Embankment


Even a casual observer will have noticed that I am very much a creature of habit; when the tide is due to be low and we are available to do so, I like to drag the family around the bay to Roa Island to do a bit of rock-pooling. Every time we do that, as we cross the causeway to Roa I point out the car park which gives access to the path to Foulney, another tidal island, and express a desire to one day explore it.

Well, we’ve been around to Roa again this week and I almost got my wish. We hadn’t really left enough time, but we did walk as far as the first automatic lighthouse (I assume that’s what it is?) on Foulney Embankment.


Scurvy Grass.

Foulney is essentially a shingle spit jutting out into Morecambe Bay. It’s houses important  breeding colonies of Terns. And also a number of plants well adapted to growing in this relatively unpromising environment.


Sea Beet.

The wind was strong and very cold. This brief visit has whet my appetite, in more ways than one – apparently the glossy leaves of Sea Beet are something of a delicacy – and I really must make an effort to come back to see the island, and its tern colonies properly.


Sea Kale.


Sea Radish.


Sea Campion.


Foulney Embankment.






Rusting hulk by the Roa causeway. Barrow industry behind.


Roa Island.

For today, however, we had an appointment with the tide to keep.

A Brief Visit to Foulney Embankment

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend – Ingleborough


A brief gap in the cloud: looking toward Whernside across Humphrey Bottom.

The weekend before Christmas (golly, I’m almost up to date) and it was time for our annual rent-a-hostel weekend with the group of long-term partners in crime whom the kids refer to as Our Camping Friends. This was the fourteenth time we’ve done this, by my reckoning anyway, and the fourth consecutive trip to The Old School Bunkhouse in Chapel-le-Dale. Actually, we’ve been getting together for this weekend for a lot longer than that, but we used to meet in one of our respective houses. We must be getting on a bit: The Adopted Yorkshire Woman, who played host on more than one occasion, was denying all memory of this earlier incarnation of our festive gatherings. Maybe her unconscious has suppressed the memories; we used to attempt a full Christmas meal, Turkey with all of the trimmings, but those of us charged with the cooking were usually quite inebriated before we began and the results were often far from spectacular, although, ironically, the mess we made of the kitchen often was spectacular. This year, after several years of sous-cheffing, I took responsibility for one of the evening meals and tried to kindle some nostalgia for those earlier efforts by chucking a tray full of roasting carrots, and the fat they were cooking in, across the kitchen floor; by having everything ready at once, excepting some rock-hard jacket spuds and some recalcitrant pie-topping pastry; and by burning myself repeatedly on the unfamiliar oven.

On the Saturday assorted members of the party, including the boys and myself, set off in the fog to climb Ingleborough. Here we are, near to the top…


We followed almost exactly the same route as I walked last year, but the weather and the views weren’t so good. Having said that, we bumped into The Eternal Weather Optimist part way along the ridge and apparently he had been enjoying wall-to-wall sunshine on the Whernside ridge, and would go on to experience the same on Ingleborough after he left us.

Unbeknownst to me, Little S (who will soon be towering over me) had decided to set 0ff on our climb wearing only a T-shirt beneath his cagoule. It was pretty windy on the ridge, and unsurprisingly, he was cold. My only option was to give him my fleece, which looked quite comical, being way too big for him, but seemed to alleviate the problem. Or at least transfer it: that left me with only a T-shirt under my cagoule. (But I’m a bit better padded out than he is – you might quibble with ‘better’ – more thoroughly padded out, let’s say).

Once again, the weekend was a great success – I always think that these get togethers feel like much more than the sum of their parts – this one for example, signals the start of Christmas to me, and always seems to contain much more than two days worth of relaxation – a sort of mini-holiday in fact.

A little more about Sunday’s adventures to follow.

Chapel-le-Dale Weekend – Ingleborough



Along with other small songbirds, robins are relatively short-lived. They live, on average, only a couple of years, but a few reach quite an advanced age. The oldest known wild individual was 11 years 5 months.

from the RSPB website.

Is that why some of them are grey at the temple?

Tuesday’s walk was part of A’s homework. This was a project set for Religious Studies and essentially required them to perform some sort of act of generosity. What a fabulous homework! She has chosen to help with our village Field Day’s fund-raising coffee morning. To that end she wrote a piece for the Parish Magazine; will help on the day and has also designed a poster which we were now distributing around the village.


Now Silverdale isn’t a huge village – I found something on t’interweb which claims that the electoral ward had a population of 2,035 according to the 2011 census – but it is quite sprawling; there are odd bits here, there and everywhere, so a walk taking in the various potential sites for posters was quite a good one.


And we detoured to some favourite spots too. Like Woodwell again…


Despite the improved weather, compared to the previous day’s walk, I still didn’t take all that many photos. I think that was because I was too busy chatting to the kids about this and that. TBH wasn’t with us because she was decorating our downstairs bathroom. She already decorated it a while ago, having chosen a paint which I would describe as ‘Submarine Grey’. The rest of the family expressed dismay at her choice, but when it was finished we decided that we liked it. TBH didn’t. So now she has painted it a different grey, with yet another hue for the ceiling. A has dubbed the room ‘50 shades’.


There were a few birding opportunities during the walk…





We’ve been teasing A because she made the mistake of telling us that one of her peers has elected, for their charitable homework, to cook a family meal once a week. Why couldn’t she choose that? – we wanted to know.


To be fair to her, she does chip in. When she saw that I was making bread for instance, she immediately wanted to help. That’s one advantage of being at home and not rushing around to visit places etc – there’s time for card games and baking.

Not that this bread takes much making. I used a very simple recipe taken from the flour packet. I shall summarise, otherwise it will take longer to type (and to read) than it does to make:

  • 15oz bread flour*
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (recipe says 1, I used two)
  • pinch of salt
  • 9 fl oz warm water
  1. Chuck it all in a bowl, in that order, mix it with a fork (you can use your fingers, but it sticks and you end up with huge dough mittens).
  2. Knead briefly until it comes away from the sides into a ball.
  3. Leave it for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Knead it again, just a few seconds.
  5. Flour a surface, squash the dough out into a rectangle then roll it up. Turn 90 degrees, repeat twice more.
  6. Put it in a greased (actually I cheat and use those paper liners) bread tin.
  7. Leave it to rise in a warm, draught free place. Might take two hours.
  8. Put it in the the oven, 200 degrees C, 25 minutes.

Butter it whilst it’s still warm. Enjoy. We all love it, and it’s really simple to do.

*There is a secret, however. This isn’t any old bread flour. Oh no. We made this using Granarius flour from Little Salkeld Watermill. I suspect another high quality, stone ground flour would do. We like their flour particularly, because we’ve been there, watched it being ground and had the whole process very thoroughly explained to us.

Their website has a slightly more complicated ‘simple’ bread recipe which I might give a try. If you want to buy their flour I suspect you might need to live in the North, preferably close to a Booths, although they don’t always seem to stock it. Or you could visit the mill, and their wonderful cafe, and try the lovely walk along the River Eden there.

And here I’ve been worrying about making individual posts for several short walks. Back in 2011 I made five posts just for one short walk.