Last night it blew a gale and poured with rain. In fact is was still raining when I got up, but there were patches of blue sky as well. Because of the weather last night, the day shapes into a very clear day. Cold and very windy, but beautifully clear. In fact, the radio is announcing the closure of many many roads in Scotland due to the winds as well as the container port at Folkstone (Dover) and a number of airports. There is just NO WAY you would have got me on a ferry across the Channel today if the container port was closed!!
As the weather is too wet to be able to take nice photos from the train, Michael has decided to have a day at home today. I want to see the Cumberland Pencil Museum in Keswick and I know that he doesn't so I decided to go down there today for a look - after all, it is indoors! After a breakfast of poached eggs on toast I head off just after 10 am. It is surprising how much traffic the little road outside the cottage carries and I almost feel like I am travelling in peak hour as far as Penrith (ok, ok, just a bit of an exaggeration!). We come to a halt as there are two male partridges fighting in the middle of the road in front of us - probably over some woman. I needed to flash my lights to get them to even notice that there was a threat.
On the way to Keswick, I turn off to have a look at the Castlerigg Standing Stones that wecouldn't find the other day. No wonder we couldn't find them, they have just finished realigning the road and the other day, we were on the wrong side of the new road section. As with all the other standing stones we have visited, these are located on the top of a hill. They are set at end of long gentle furrows and I wonder whether these might be burial mounds. For a while I am alone with the wind on the hill before a family walks in from the rear gate. I would have through that you would need rocks in your head before you went cross sountry walking in this weather, but they looked normal enough!
Then it is down into Keswick to the Cumberland and Derwent Pencil Museum. I can just hear you all throwing off at me, but let me tell you, I have a tin of 72 Derwent Pencils that I have had since before we were married (coming up for 28 years) that only comes out for scrapbooking or mapping these days - and I treasure them. The museum is very interesting and contains much more than I anticipated including a snippet about how during WWII pencils were made raw and did not have finished or coloured shells - very plain. All except a handful that was. There were a few made that were given to airmen or smuggled into POX camps that contained a compass under the eraser and a escape route map within a barrel inside the pencil. These were coloured green and the number on the outside of the pencil denoted which section of map was hiden inside! Now, how ingenious is that - just goes to show you how resourceful people can be when there is a need. These were made at the very factory I was at today by a handful of staff sworn to secrecy.
After my tour I went to their coffee shop for a hot choccy. The Panini with Smoked Cheddar and Caramalised Onion Marmalade sounded just too good to pass up so had one for lunch. And it tasted every bit as good as it sounded. The panini was not like we are used too - a light long roll with a very light and crisp crunchy crust - a nice contrast to the hot, savoury and sweet filling.
So it is now about 1 pm and I am thinking that since Michael is getting sick of scenic routes and stopping for photos, that I will go up and over the mountains. So off up the Honister Pass I head towards Buttermere. The climb is hard, the cold is dense, the wind is fierce but the scenery and the views are worth it all and then some. I pass six young girls pushing into the wind ripping down the mountain and when I pull over and fight to get out of the car with the wind determined to slam the door on my leg, they draw level and we exchange comments about the weather. Gee, they can have it - why anyone would want to leave the relative warmth and comfort of a bed for a tent is well beyond my comprehension - Alan and Rhonda, and John - you can all have it! Then I reach the summit and it is all down from there (funny about that, huh!). The grades are steep and the steepest is a whopping 25% slope, so down I go in second gear with my foot on the brake all the way. About halfway down I pass a cyclist going UP - John, are you all English cyclists mad or something??
The views out across Lake Buttermere are stunning. We are now of the opinion that there are two ways to make money here - and probably a lot of money. Right through the mountains, and of course around the lakes are hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs. And then there are the pubs. Funnily enough, even though it is still very early in the spring season, and the weather is still unpredictable and cool to cold, the car parks at the pubs and accommodation houses are almost always nearly full.
As I drive around the lake, I am constantly amazed at the number of people that you see walking the trails - both around the various lakes, up into the hills, across the dales and even along the roadsides. Without a doubt I would have seen a couple of hundred in total today. Helen, we need to be really fit for that kind of walking. The accessories of choice seem to be brightly coloured clothing (sometimes to the point of being gaudy), backpacks, anoraks and walking sticks. Should see if I can get myself some - they are very handy when walking in ice as well I discovered in Germany over Christmas. I continue to meander up back lanes and tight twisting roads. Kevin, you and I are not the only ones who do that. There are another two cars who constantly play leap frog with me - one of us would stop for a photo, the others would pass and on it goes.
Back into Penrith and a slow slow trip back to The Smithy in a line of traffic behind a tractor hauling a huge bin of seed potatoes up and down the hills. I walk into the kitchen to the amazing smells of a pork roast in the oven as Michael is putting the finishing touches to a bread and butter custard ready to go in when the meat is finished. Mm-hmm. Think I will finish my cider while I do the blog. Cheers!