Treats, tennis & ... some not so nice bits!

July has been yet another up & down sort of month here in Carlisle…and I`m not just talking about the weather! There have been some good bits, some not so good bits & some bloody awful bits!

Ill start with one of the really good bits…our trip away to the very lovely Armathwaite Hall. What a gorgeous place it is and we really enjoyed the luxury of the upgraded room, complete with a TV in the bathroom! Now, that was a first for me…being able to lie in the bath watching TV! We ate in the dining room which had beautiful views across the grounds to Bassenthwaite Lake & although the food was very nice, I thought it was a bit unadventurous …and very expensive. However, the views & the service did make up for that a bit! Geoff, still very protective of his dodgy back managed to get a “special” chair transported to the dining room, as the ones there were too soft for him…and the staff took all this in their stride! As we had thought, the spa & swimming pool were still off limits which was disappointing and although we did think about a swim in the lake, the weather just wasnt warm enough even for us hardy souls to do that without a wetsuit! We did make use of the tennis court though and really enjoyed our first attempts to hit tennis balls for over 30 years. Some of them even went over the net too much to our surprise! All in all, it was a really nice break…and one which we needed, really. We enjoyed doing some exploring of the Northern end of the Lakes, visiting Grasmere and Keswick briefly & we visited Mirehouse gardens on its first day of re-opening along with the lovely little St Begas church, where a lot of my friend Roses family are buried. There was an extraordinary amount of people out in the countryside walking and cars parked everywhere there, but at no time did we feel unsafe or at risk. Most people were being very good at social distancing and the staff in the hotel were very firm but also good at keeping to all the new rules. We were a bit surprised that our room did not get made up during our stay, but again, that was due to new regulations forbidding any contact or entry to the room during occupancy. It did feel strange though that having paid all that money that we didn`t even get clean towels! The stay at hotel was eye wateringly expensive and so I doubt we will be repeating the experience any time soon, but we did enjoy it all very much.

We have ventured out and about a bit again this month, meeting up with our friends Rose and Robin for a walk with the dog one afternoon at Bells Bridge …where I did see the mink who live there this time. That was a first for me! We also had an indoor pic-nic with Mike and Linda at their cottage in Uldale, when the outdoor one we had planned was called off due to rain! We met up with them again this week in Carlisle where we had coffee together. Geoff and I managed at last, to go to Tullie House in Carlisle to see the Chinese exhibition when it reopened last week and we rediscovered the lovely Cathedral grounds with its newly refurbished café, where we had lunch for a treat. And, of course, we have been playing tennis again! We booked a court at Chatsworth tennis club and we enjoyed that very much again. The people at the club are so friendly and helpful and we are now sure we will be playing a lot more there in the weeks to come. Best thing of all was that in spite of it being a very long time since either of us did anything like this, we had no real after effect either! Bonus!!

Whilst not gadding about, we are still managing to keep ourselves occupied at home. Geoff has had quite a bit of document revision work to do as his university friends at Clermont Ferrand have been trying to get their research papers ready for publication before the holidays start in France. I have been busy knitting, having discovered that I can surprisingly make toys! After the success of the Yoshi last month for my grandson, I have now completed a (rather larger than I was expecting it must be said) unicorn with stripey legs for my granddaughter, which Im very pleased with! We delivered these on Thursday when we met up with our son and the children for lunch in Carnforth. The children were very pleased with them which also pleased me! We all had a very nice outdoor lunch followed by a good walk across the sands playing in the many pools along the way. The children also seem to have gotten over their fear of Xena and discovered what fun it is to throw balls for her and watch her playing in the water. That is a great step forward 😊 Now I have embarked on the most ambitious project yet…a knitted nativity scene for our daughter. My mother-in-law, who was a very great knitter of all things, made this nativity scene for us many years ago & it has survived attacks by our old dog Bounty, who took such a “liking” to one of the wise men that we had to put the scene well out of his reach in the end, thefts of baby Jesus and the sheep by our cat, as well as several house moves in its lifetime. Hazel has always loved this scene so being a bit bolder these days I bought the pattern and have started it. So far Mary is complete and has delivered baby Jesus 5 months early! Joseph is well on his way too…so all is going well. I cant believe Im knitting stuff like this…I always half admired my MiLs skills and half thought she was quite bonkers for doing it! I shall update you on progress in the next blog!

We have also become addicted to watching the progress of the osprey chicks at Foulshaw Moss via the nest webcam there. The chicks have grown so much in the short period of time, starting out as really scrawny things and are now almost fully gown and starting to fly. It has been fascinating watching their progress and we have loved every minute. They are now leaving the nest for long periods of the day strengthening their wings ready for migration in the autumn. Now, when we tune in to the camera and they are not there, I get genuine “empty nest” feelings! I shall miss them so much when they finally depart.

Our other “in house” activity of doing a daily video quiz with my brother each day continues, which is also good. My brother is very competitive…always has been…and so gets a bit upset if we win, but it has really been great to have so much more contact with him over this lockdown period. There are some good things to come out of all this after all.

One of the big steps forward this month has been the start of the purchase of our flat here in Carlisle from our daughter. Up until now we have been squatting really and although the process of actually buying the flat had started earlier this year, it got overtaken by all the lockdown stuff. However, we have now been contacted by the solicitors concerned and the process is on again. We have signed the first set of papers and paid the first set of fees so we are on our way. We do really like living here in this nice complex…it is everything we need and having the garden is a definite bonus. We will be very happy actually owning this flat soon. We finally got round to obtaining a UK mobile phone too yesterday. So far, we have been coping with our French phones and still have contracts with Orange which have been working quite well but it has become increasingly irritating when being asked for our mobile numbers getting, a refusal to accept them because they are French. Geoff is still happy to continue with his French contract but we decided that we really needed at least one number that people, such as the pharmacy etc would accept & use. It also means I can now complete the form I have to apply to be a volunteer in a charity shop. I just now need to figure out how to use the new phone…I hate change like this with a vengeance!

My medical woes have continued this month with the arrival of a nasty rash on my upper back accompanied by a bit of a sharp pain, which I noticed when we came back from our break. I knew at once that it was shingles but rang the surgery to see what was to be done about it. Once again I was not given the opportunity to speak to the GP (Im beginning to think he has left the country) but spoke over the phone to a nurse, who didnt even ask to see a photo of the rash or anything like that, but took my self diagnosis without much interest. I am beginning to despair of this nurse led system I can tell you…and this is an ex nurse speaking remember! Anyway, I was prescribed a course of antiviral tablets which I have now completed. I have to say that shingles is every bit as nasty as many folks have told me it was. I am feeling a lot better now and the rash is almost gone, but the pain was really bad and I am still suffering with a dull ache in my right upper back. The nurses helpful advice btw was calamine lotion for the rash “but it wont help much” and don`t take too much Ibuprofen for the pain as it “damages your kidneys!” I am due a review for the diabetes next week…again with a practice nurse…and I am so looking forward to that! I know that I am a bad patient but my patience is being tried greatly atm with all this! I know that you pay for health care in France, but I have to say that I found it all so much more satisfactory than any of the so-called care I have received here so far. Rant over!

And so we come to the end of July…and we seem to be going out on a high weather wise at least! We are camped out at our daughter`s house this weekend dog sitting Xena…and spoiling her a bit too…whilst they are away for the weekend! There were lots of hints left that their garden could do with a bit of TLC but it’s a bit hot for that today really…maybe tomorrow then! We might just head off to the coast this afternoon and try for a little swim instead. Til next month…

A bientot mes amis

Very interesting and entertaining, Christine, to read about a life so different from my own. I don’t think I could have resisted a dip in Bass Lake though (passed by there many times in ‘the old days’) cold or not and I am seriously impressed with hitting a tennis ball for 30 years. :astonished: :wink:

We are really missing our swims. Where we lived in France we used to swim nearly every day in a nearby lake…& the water was never warm at 800m altitude! We keep looking at the rivers near here but have not as yet been tempted to try…& our trip to the coast the other day was a disaster as we didn`t check the tide times…& the sea was a long way out! As for the tennis…so far so good :slight_smile:

Where did you have lunch in Carnforth?
I always thought it was made with all the bits left over from elsewhere.
It started to improve when the University came to Lancaster and they got a Booths.
I used to live at Warton Hall, just under the hill with the quarried side. My favourite walk was over the Crag to look down at Leighton Hall.
That would be a good day out for you if the Hall is open but Leighton Moss should be and it is a very successful site for bitterns.
Enjoy the North West and I will look forward to more snippets.

My son likes to meet up at Archers cafe down by the caravan site. Its great for the kids as they have a small enclosure with animals, we can eat outside in the courtyard & then walk along the marsh & shore. We used to go to Leighton Mosss once upon a time when we visited my MiL in Preston, but haven`t been for a very long time.