30 November 2015

The Lake District, Lambs a Leaping Part II

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils
Daffodils, William Wordsworth

I know what you're thinking, 'when was Part I?'. That's a really great question, it was roughly 3 months ago (see here), yep, I've been slack on uploading the second part of our wet walks in the Lake District. A fact that has not been forgotten...least of all by my mum. Every other conversation I have with her ends in 'when are you going to upload our holiday photos?'. The problem is, I take too many. This is probably obvious from any post I've ever posted. As Dan, my main man, has now ruled, I am no longer allowed to take any photos of sheep as I have just shy of a gazillion (not a real word) shots of them. As well as taking multiple photos of the same thing for the fun of it, I'm also doing it because I've been trying to improve my manual photography this year since Dan lovingly bought me a DSLR last Christmas (I think he feels like this is the biggest mistake he's ever made, at least I'm using this gift...unlike the mittens and egg timer of 2012). That's mean, the mittens and egg timer were part of a larger array of gifts who's first letter of each present made an anagram for Merry Christmas Felicity (yeah that's right I got twenty two gifts...who's sounding spoilt now? Still me). Spoilt-ness (also not a real word) aside, I've finally finished editing all of the sheep photos out of our Lake District snaps, I may have left one or two (or perhaps 10) still in but look at the little lamb's face, he was practically begging me too. (SPOILER ALERT FOR MY MUM) So this year for Christmas, along with an actual real gift, I'm giving my mum a copy of our holiday photos (but no you still can't see the ones from Iceland, it's going to take me years to narrow down which Icelandic horse photos to keep).  

Anyway, I still have more photos to share with you, which may or may not include 1000 duck photos and a picture of dogs (plural) on a boat, but let's save them for Part III. I like to build the suspense up in preparation for sharing these shots with you. These photos are from a day out we had at Sizergh Castle, a National Trust estate, near Kendal, the biggest town in the Lake District. As I've said before the Lake District has lakes for a reason and that reason is because it rains. All of the time (slightly melodramatic but not much). This day was a particularly horrid in the morning so we decided to up and wander round the castle first. One of the really interesting things about Sizergh Castle is the Strickland family still live there, I think this is the only National Trust property I've been to where this is the case. It actually makes it more interesting biggest amongst all the old historic artefacts there are more modern touches and for those nosey readers (aka mum) plenty of photos of the modern day clan that lives there. 

I should say before you grab your camera and head to your nearest National Trust property (of which there are tons in the UK, including some great ones in London), generally photography is not allowed and this is one of the only properties I've visited where you can take photos inside. Which is great because there are so many beautiful things I wanted to show you! The whole estate is very extravagant with stained glass, beautiful silk wallpaper and  a large amount of gorgeous wooden panelling. One room's panelling (the Inlaid Chamber) was actually sold off to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in the late 1800s by the Strickland in charge at the time to fund his gambling habit (cheeky). Clearly this wasn't highly thought off by the rest of the family (as all the tour volunteers we spoke to hated the man), so it was campaigned to be bought back to the Inlaid Chamber for years till it was finally restored in 1999. Weirdly, although the panelling has been restored it is on a long-term loan basis so the V&A still have the rights to this room and as such it is the only room in the whole Castle where you can't take any photos (boooooooooo!).

Walking round the house, I was particularly smitten with all the books, some of which had particularly beautiful spines and covers. I think one of the saddest things about houses like this is that the books just sit on shelves not being read. At least at Sizergh Castle the family are still there to read them but it makes me really sad (get your tissues at the ready...) when I think about all the books that must have been destroyed having not been read for years when Clandon House burnt down, and the huge collection of mounted butterflies (which we weren't even supposed to look at but did anyway and now never can again!). My mum's boyfriend recently gifted me a beautiful illustrated copy of Alice in Wonderland Through The Looking Glass, whose engraved images I have been poring over. It's absolutely gorgeous and couldn't get sold at Auction and was going to be destroyed by the owners so he saved it, and I'm so grateful he did.

My mum's boyfriend is always great to walk round houses/galleries/museums with as he's an antique evaluator by day (rock music enthusiast and cheese lover by night; that's why he loves my mum), so you can always get some facts from him, he knows what's real and what's imitation (I would have no clue) and tends to know a bit of the darker history behind everything. Also if we see a collection of anything (I really mean this) he can always tell me what the most and least expensive item is, and usually who it's made by. Note to readers; usually the most expensive is the ugliest (why is that? Is it the whole too much money not enough sense thing?).

While we were walking round the house the rain stopped, so we decided to make the most of it and have a picnic in the grounds, being Swiss French, a picnic to my family basically means eating cheese, grapes and bread outside where the cheese may or may not be melted. With a couple of cups of tea and my very fetching blue anorak we decided to take a turn (how very British of us) round the gardens.

Outside the front of Sizergh castle are some fields full of sheep with a walking track that leads off into the hills. We made a short stab at walking round this way but it was so wet after a few of us almost losing shoes in the mud (something I'm loathed to relive after I lost my wellie in a bog this year) we stuck to the more formal gardens out the back. The most interesting of which being the zen garden. Japanese inspired, the colours are all very Autumnal (even in Spring/Summer when we visited!) where lots of mini trees styled as bonsai' take root among rocky pools. It's built up as lots of layered paths so it's almost slightly maze like which is entertaining trying to get to each other. Exiting into the kitchen garden which was looking like it had a bit of a poor harvest lined up, I made a friend. His named was Colin (it wasn't I made it up) and he wanted a hug so it was only polite to sit down and play with him for 5 minutes (Dan thinks it was more like 20, but honestly Colin was so friendly I didn't want to leave). Eventually Dan separated us (he was just jealous) and we wandered through the woods where we met some very camera shy chickens and the cutest doe eyed lamb (can you tell I'm an animal lover? Is it creeping you out? Will you keep reading? So many questions). 

p.s Colin's the cat.

By now my taking photos of sheep had become a bit of a family in joke (not a very funny one in my opinion) but of course my mum and Dan thought it was hilarious (they're the funniest people they know), and kept scaring the sheep by asking them to pose. I'm just thankful my brothers weren't there because with all of them chiming in it would have been unbearable and who knows what they would have done.

It's rare we get to spend so much time together with my parents as we live away from home so I really appreciate days like these. Growing up, after we came over from the Falkland Islands and it was just me, my mum and my brother we didn't have a huge amount of money so we never really went away. In truth, it wasn't until I met Dan that I actually went on a plane again some 10 years later. Which makes me so thankful (and also a little bit afraid of flying. Ok a lot) that I can afford to go away and see the world now, even if it is just a little bit of the Lake District! I'll always be grateful to my mum for putting me and my brother first, and making sure we had the best chances she could give us even though we had a difficult time, which is why I like to be able to take my mum and her boyfriend out and spoil them (like the time we took them to eat the best food we've had this year at Pachamama, read about it here), or be able to go away on holiday together. Am I being too soppy? Well I'm just going to go ahead and say I love my mum. There I've said it, she'll probably print screen this paragraph and get it framed but I don't care! Stop me if you can readers I'm a mummy's girl!

Moving on from my emotional declaration. Mum and I went down to the edge of the lake/pond (what is it? I'm not sure maybe it's a combo, a pake if you will) in search of the elusive wild garlic. We may have naughtily picked a couple of leaves to add to our dinner that night but let's keep that between you, me and mum. Although the house itself has it's own beauty, it was the grounds I fell for at Sizergh Castle and the amount of wildlife living amongst them. We're talking swans, ducks, geese, yellow wagtails, farmed sheep and chickens, and even a hive of bees. I'm a big lover of Jane Austen and a secret romantic at heart, this is exactly the kind of place I can imagine her characters walking round, possibly hiding with a beau in one of nature's alcoves (cheeky devs).

As beautiful as Sizergh Castle was in the Spring, I'd love to see it in the Winter when it's covered in a thick blanket of snow and the pond freezes over. In the UK, particularly in the South, we don't really get that many snowy days, a complete opposite to the Winter in the Falklands where we once had enough snow to build an igloo and sledging was a daily occurrence. Aside from the times me and my brother spent going down our stairs on the sledge in the UK (don't try this at home kids), I have  been sledging in the snow here once, which was probably the only time we got enough snow to sleigh down! You can imagine sleighing down the hills in the Lake District would be hilarious, I mean potentially dangerous and life-threatening (Pah! You safety salamander you) but we'll let Dan go first...

Poor Dan I hear you say? Did you know he's rationing the amount of time I can spend lighting my new pine scented candles? Not feeling so sorry for him now are you.

Looking back at these photos although I'm super excited for Winter and most importantly Christmas (it's only 24 sleeps away!!!!), and all the fun this season brings. I'm looking forward to Spring, the new shoots, darling buds of May and, dare I say, lambing season (start prepping your camera now). Unfortunately because of the wet weather this year we didn't get to camp out in the Lake District like we planned, but that just gives us another excuse to make a second trip in 2016, if we do I'll definitely make sure to stop by Sizergh Castle again if only to do the muddy walk we failed at last time (with appropriate footwear on of course) and snap a lamb photo or two of course!

Look at those beauties, aren't they a smiley bunch. A lot of people say I don't look like my mum or brother at all, but I think you can definitely see some resemblance to my mum in these photos, what do you reckon? Editing these shots have made me so excited to see my family again over Christmas, I can't wait to make some mulled cider with my mammy and eat (you guessed it) lots of cheese. Do you have any Christmas plans sorted? We put our tree up at the weekend, it was quite nice carrying it home through town, a lot of children stopped and stared, tugging at their parents sleeves 'they've got a Christmas tree!'. That and taking my, now, 6-month-old niece to see all the Christmas lights at the Garden Centre (any excuse to go and buy succulents) and her face light up has really got me in the Christmas spirit. Oh the bottle of prosecco, mulled cider and Christmas baking at Sophie's last weekend might have helped, or the fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a Christmassy cocktail, Lisa invited me to at Dirty Bones last Friday (read all about her review here)! What's making you feel Christmassy? 

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