Sunday, 30 September 2012

It's Been A Funny Old Summer..... so many ways, with an assortment of highs and lows as summer went along - starting back in May when I narrowly avoided hurling myself down a mountain in the Lake District, but hurt my knee quite badly in the process :-(  
We did a circular route up Whiteless Pike - a walk of about 8 miles in length and 2000ft of (what felt like) mostly up, so not one of the highest or longest walks we've ever done but that day, certainly one of the windiest!
Almost at the top, with Crummock Water and the Irish Sea in the background. Definitely a high on both counts there!
 We followed the path along the ridge ...yep, that leeeetle faint yellow line going off into the distance is the path! I did have to hold Himself's hand at a couple of points along there as the wind was gusting SO strongly. I'm not normally such a wuss on walks but I was in real danger of being blown off . Over the years we walked in the Alps, the Himalayas and the Karakorums as well as our own Lakes, Peaks, Dales, Scotland and Wales but I have never known anywhere to be as windy as it was that day - but that wasn't the problem!
 We came down  a scree gulley, which was tricky but do-able with care even though it got a awful lot steeper than this and the gap between path and stream got much higher .....
 but I didn't fall until I was on a 'proper' path about 20 ft above the river and rocks - when I tripped on a stone sticking up in the path, idiot that I am! After an impressive bit of stumbling and windmilling of arms for about 20 feet, I finally fell, landed on my right knee, started to tilt ominously fast towards my left - and that drop, so twisted to face-plant into the heather instead. Ouch.
I've walked in the Lakes often enough to know that you need to take care At All Times or the Fells bite back!
 Then there was the 3 mile walk out back to the car ...including a bit of scrambling! Good job it didn't happen at the top of the gully or Mountain Rescue might have had to come and get me. I was down to an agonising painfully slow painful hobble-limp by the last mile. Yep, that was a definite low!
Fortunately, the weekend was saved by the fact that the hotel we'd booked had turned out to be close enough to Bilbo Waggins of for us to go and visit her and Management and plans were already in place for a curry with them at an excellent Indian restaurant that night! Laughter, convivial company, great conversation, good food and beer worked as excellent pain relief! So much so that we went back the following morning for a top-up on the laughter and conversation ...and, bless her heart, Bilbo produced a shepherd's crook so that I could hobble up their wonderful garden and have coffee overlooking the pond - but the racket we made with laughing so much scared away the wildlife! Meeting them was another high :-) I was just sad that I didn't get to drive Miss Daisy because of my knee!

June saw me still in pain, but only limping a bit as I undertook one of the scariest 'jobs' of my life!!! My wonderful SIL was getting married and she and her equally lovely almost-husband asked me to perform a Handfasting Ceremony after the Registrar has done her bit - it seemed like a good idea last year when I agreed to do it (now where have I heard that phrase before?Oh yes, The Big Bash!), but it took 2 months of research and writing/re-writing/re-re-writing before I had a 30 minute ceremony that I was happy with - and they had no idea of the contents of! Trusting or what? I could have had them strip naked and dance round a bonfire for all they knew of what I was up to!!!

Don't be fooled by the calm exterior here - I was (to use the vernacular) 'bricking it' on my way to the chapel at this point!The box had my Handfasting kit in it and was given to the happy couple as a gift after the ceremony. The photos were taken by, who just happens to be SIL's best friend and a dear friend of ours :-) 

My dress was made to measure by First-Born, aka and my jewellery was made by Last-Born, aka . 

Proud to be dressed by my awesome daughters!
 The 'tying of the knot' part of the ceremony ...happily they loved everything that I'd prepared! Not sure what I'd have done if they'd hated it!
 The photo shoot (by Rachel Barnes Photography again) of me and Last-Born for First-Born's portfolio. She's a costume maker and can turn her hand to anything - clothes, wedding dresses, costumes, chain-mail, armour, weapons, wings......! You name it, she can make it.
I have to confess to the wedding being a retrospective high as I put myself under HUGE pressure to get it right, but did enjoy looking back at it!

The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics began at the end of July and I rapidly became an Olympic addict - so apologies to my Facebook friends who had to put up with several weeks of what one friend described as my 'stream of consciousness' regarding both Games! 
I'd managed to get Olympic tickets in the first round of bidding so, on the 4th August Himself and I went off to London and the North Greenwich Arena to see the women's trampolining.
It was amazing - people talked to each other on the train going down ...Hello Britain, we don't DO that!!! We got free lollies when we arrived at St. Pancras, the Games Maker volunteers were fantastic, the police and army were wonderful, EVERYONE was so friendly, happy, smiling, didn't matter who you were supporting or where in London you were, the atmosphere was simply amazing!

Outside the North Greenwich Arena. See that blue line up the roof? You can go on guided (roped up) tours up there! Sadly I didn't know about that beforehand or I'd have booked us tickets to go up. We'll just have to go back and do it another day :-D

In the arena having a Boadicea moment! 

Spot the trampolinist? I'll give you a clue...she's above the left hand bed. I did quite a bit of trampolining when I was a teenager, but never achieved the heights these girls can bounce, nor the complexity of their routines - we were gobsmacked!

There were thrills and spills - and the gold medal was decided on the last bounce of the last girl to go. The Chinese favourite landed badly at the end of her routine and dropped to Bronze, Canada took the Gold.
After the medal ceremony we went of to Hyde Park to find the free big screens that were showing various events of the day. Again a brilliant atmosphere. Bradley Wiggins, cycling hero, put in an appearance at the free concert whilst we were there and I pretended I was doing a lap of honour! Gold medal for idiocy, but still a massive high of a day!
However, all that walking took its toll on my knee so I was reduced to forcing champagne down me for pain relief at St. Pancras before hobbling onto the train home in agony! A dip into a low.
The whole carriage had the volume turned up on someone's iPad to listen to Jess Ennis win her 8000m race and take Gold in the Heptathlon - massive cheers all round! What a high!

The Paralympics were also a major high for me. Stuff the old idea of 'disabled athletes' somehow playing at doing sport - 'cos, let's face it, that's what many, many people think, although I'd never bought into that, having worked with lots of disabled people over the years in my job as an Occupational Therapist. These were SERIOUS ATHLETES who just happened to have a disability, but who had trained hard for 4 years and were giving it their all to get that Gold. Incredible races and competitions that had me on the edge of my seat - again, and pumping up the adrenalin - again! The Russian archer who had no arms and fired his arrows using his feet and mouth yet still scored perfect tens - awesome. The Team GB Equestrian squad were amazing. ALL the wheelchair basketball games were so much more exciting than ordinary basketball because they rely on sheer skill rather than just having the tallest players! Murderball, oops,Wheelchair rugby - fantastic! The 100m final battle between Oscar Pistorius and Jonnie Peacock - nail biting! Ellie Simmonds (swimming), David Weir (wheelchair 1500m, 800m, 400m  and marathon), Hannah Cockcroft (wheelchair racing), Sarah Storey (cycling), Richard Whitehead (athletics) and so many others whose names became so familiar to us proved what incredibly dedicated and skilful athletes they were - and Jody Cundy's justified rant after he was denied a restart in the cycling time trial showed just how quickly their disabilities had become invisible in the face of their athleticism!

A HUGE, HUGE HIGH! ...and I still can't believe that the USA didn't broadcast ANY of the Paralympics - what a missed opportunity. And what a mega low for the American TV broadcasting companies!

I thought it was brilliant that ALL the Gold medal winners in both Games got a gold postbox in their home town and a special edition stamp print run as well. You've just got to love Royal Mail for that! 

SO, mostly highs so far. Lows? The wet, cold, windy, grotty, horrible, miserable flippin' British weather this year! My garden has suffered badly and I've had the worst fruit and vegetable crop ever in the 11 years that I've been growing stuff. 

My salad bed grew lots of radish tops, but no edible radishes. I gave up trying to grow salad outside after repeated sowings got repeatedly drowned. I had a bit more success growing salad in trays in the greenhouse, but the crop was still very small compared to normal.

The runner beans took until August to even flower. We've only been picking the beans for a couple of weeks now and in way smaller numbers than usual. The French climbing beans that I grew for the first time have, however, proved to be a winner - crispy, tasty and quite prolific...the only crop that is! The pea crop produced enough peas for one meal for two of us ...and I'd planted extra plants this year because I LOVE fresh peas! There are a fair few flagelot  beans, but they haven't matured into decent sized beans. 

Whilst the squash, courgette and sweetcorn plants look good from a distance, they're rubbish close up - all foliage and very little substance (or sustenance!)

It wasn't warm enough for long enough for the corn cobs to fully mature....

I only managed to grow 7 cobs from a dozen plants. Disappointingly few. They were all small when measured against that well known measuring stick of the teaspoon, but they were very tasty and we've marked them down as a success ...mainly because, although there were far fewer cobs than last year, at least we got to eat them this year instead of the badgers!!!

I'm not sure if this is a courgette, a squash or a squashette, but it's the only one that all those plants combined managed to produce! :-(

The onion tops and all the herbs got eaten by pigeons. Half the leeks got washed away by the rain and everything  else got eaten by slugs and snails. 
Spot the carrots and parsnips?! There are 2 carrots and 3 parsnips lurking in this bed - out of  repeated sowings on 3 rows each of each vegetable. Huh! What a waste of time and effort that was!
So - vegetable growing a low, fruit also a low - most of the blossom got washed off in the downpours, so we got very few apples, no pears, plums, damsons or cherries (although to be fair, the blasted pigeons ate what few cherries there were!). The summer raspberries were large and tasteless because they were waterlogged, but the autumn raspberries have redeemed themselves and the new blackcurrant bushes gave us a reasonable first year crop after several years of poor yield on the old bushes due to undiagnosed big bud mite!

The other big low was that I hit the 'woman of a certain age' thing big time. No energy, no motivation, no oomph, no internal thermostat, no sleep, constantly hungry, waistline disappearing, porridge where my brain used to be...... NOT impressed! But we'll gloss quickly over that and admire the sedums whilst gasping in horror at one day's rainfall in my rain gauge - whilst bearing in mind that that was on the last day of the huge storm that hit us at the beginning of the week and flooded parts of the UK again. On the first day, the gauge overflowed!

And to finish on a old Hunter wellies finally wore out - well, they were 28 years old and third hand (or foot!) when I got them, so it's not that surprising really! So I treated myself (or 'tret mesen' as they say round here) and bought a brand new pair of really girlie RHS designed Hunter wellies - that I couldn't bring myself to wear for the first week or so because they're so pretty that I didn't want to get them mucky! 

Told you my brain had gone to porridge!