The short: We went away to the Lakes for the weekend to celebrate my birthday.
The long: The sun shone. And shone and shone and shone. We walked: we met two men along the first 1.5 mile stretch ambling along the bridleway running away from Wastwater in the vague direction of Nether Wasdale. He hailed from Blackpool. Said how lovely it was to hear a proper Lancashire accent again. Asked where we were headed and rued that once he would have been heading the same way but now 3 miles was about right. 42 years he’d lived in Cumbria, never deciding where to walk at the weekend until Friday night in the pub, but out every weekend, we assumed for 42 years.
We camped: Or rather we podded, slept inside the smell of pine, beneath starfields so intricate we struggled to find the familiar patterns of stars in amongst all the noise. Mars stood out - it always does. We fell asleep to the sound of a distant generator and of owls hooting, chatting across the valley, over our heads.
We ate and drank: micro-brewery ale recommended by the locals, ginger beer and ‘proper’ scampi, mixed with flapjack we forgot to take with us on the walk which nearly led to disaster along with a fly by visit to our favourite restaurant in the entire world. Zeferelli’s is the only restaurant we’d drive a 60 mile round trip in an evening for.
We gazed: at mountain ranges and still waters. At sun beams cascading down the side of folds in the screes, replacing water with light. At the campsite in front of our pod, perfectly formed, gently undulating, lusciously green and scattered with trees, handily placed for children to climb and safely fall out of, to be bedecked in wet towels and airing sleeping bags. At kayakers using 1 metre square pieces of material as mini sails to catch up with friends and at mountain ghylls gently trickling where once they had thundered. At orangey brown bracken which said Autumn and crocus and daffodil patches which said Spring.
We drove: down winding lanes in dark and light, splashing through potholes, reversing for farm traffic, negotiating the complicated and seemingly etiquette ridden dance of who has right of way on endless single track roads. Past road riders crucifying themselves with joy on Birker Fell. Through flat meadows, past reflective mirror estuaries and round and up hairpins covered in perfectly smooth newly laid tarmac.
We smelled: freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee. Meatfree sausages and onions frying in the morning. The bedewed grassy smell of camping and the smell of 3am when no one else is awake.
We found: each other. Serenity and soporific drifting. The edges of our fitness right now. The edges of the flex of my calf muscles. That I am definitely allergic to sunlight but that it doesn’t matter. That spf 20 suncream mixed with non deet insect repellant is about the best invention ever. That gruff man in climbing shop is not for melting but that most people really do respond well to a beaming smile given freely.
Not bad for under £100.