We've had a bit of a sunny spell recently, and it's been nice to talk advantage and do a bit of walking. First of all, a wander through the woods with a friend in Sheffield.
I don't get chance to wander through woods much around here, and very rarely by running water, so having both together was a proper treat.
The next day, we finally made it up the big hill near our house with some other friends. We look at this hill every day, and while visitors have walked over it, we never have ourselves.
From up at the top you can really see why this ridge is often called the dragon's back.
It was a lovely day (although rather breezy) and we weren't the only ones up there, but we did find a quiet spot for some lunch near the top.
I don't do much hill walking, and clearly I'm missing out on some epic views.
The route off the hill was rather convoluted, but we did end up on this rather jolly path, and found another nice sheltered spot for a cup of tea.
We didn't have to drive anywhere for this walk, just straight out of the gate and down the footpath across our fields. We didn't measure it exactly, but probably walked no more than six miles. I'll definitely be tempted to do it again - maybe I'll even try to get up there early one morning to see the mist swirling in the valley below.
Anyway, all this walking is good practice, as it seems my sister and I have signed up for the virtual London marathon at the start of October. Not running, I hasten to add, and as it's a virtual event, we have a full 24 hours to do the distance, but even so, 26 miles is a long way. I'm probably not going to get any more training walks in before the event, which means my longest walk this year is currently, er, six miles. But we've done the distance more than once before, and given that we'll be walking in loops near her house, really, how hard can it be?
I suppose we'll find out.
Today started early. Not too early, but earlier than I would have liked. I had an unusual amount of work to do today (and yes, theoretically I could have done more of it last week, but that was a bit of a moot point this morning).
Anyway, the one saving grace was that today's work didn't have to involve the laptop, and so 7.30am found me on the sofa in the study under a blanket, still in my dressing gown. I did a couple of hours, then had a break for a shower and some breakfast.
Back on the sofa again, reading and writing, with a small break to visit the chickens, old and new. They still haven't forgiven us for shutting them all in together yesterday. Our friend Tiny Robin has joined the flock, and was there as usual when it was time for treats, blending in nicely with the ground.
Speaking of Tiny Robin, I don't think I've posted this picture from the other day, when he landed on my back (actually I have no idea if Tiny Robin is a he, but since the one male in this household is wildly outnumbered let's assume he is).
Back inside, more work. Yawn. Another chicken break later, after we realised Rusty had been wandering round in the rain and was soaking wet. The others are much better at taking shelter, but Rusty doesn't mind wandering round in all weathers. She did have a bit of a cough the other day though so I'd rather she didn't catch a chill.
We sat in the chicken run with a cuppa as the ladies started to wind down towards bedtime. Chippy is currently our most affectionate chicken, and jumps up as soon as we sit down.
I love the way they tuck their heads right under their wings.
I noticed on the way back in that one of the raspberries is ripening. We're not going to have a huge raspberry crop - more enough for a couple of breakfasts than endless jars of jam, but I'm hopeful these will start producing more now I've stopped moving them around.
Actually, looking at that picture I can see that something's started eating it already. Hmm.
Anyway, back on the sofa, yawn. At least it was warm and comfy, and gave my back a nice change from sitting in the office chair. Like yesterday, if the chimney hadn't been full of twigs from the jackdaws' nest, I would definitely have lit the fire today. They've gone now, so I might get the chimney brushes out at the weekend.
Finally I finished, or at least got to the end of what I could handle in one day - over twelve hours since I started. I know people regularly work twelve hour shifts, but I don't, and when I did it involved walking around and being with other people, not sitting in a room on my own staring at a screen.
It was still raining, but I was very much in need of a walk, and when I got outside it wasn't as bad as it looked.
I didn't go far, just half a mile out to the road and back again. But it felt SO nice to be walking, even in the drizzle.
A quick chat with my mum, a hot chocolate, and I'm not far off bed now.
Tomorrow is a whole day video call - a frightening prospect but one which can't be avoided. I think there's definitely going to be a need for a walk in the evening again. Wonder if they'll notice if I call in from under a blanket on the sofa??
This week is mostly being taken up with a very poorly Mildred chicken, who isn't long for this world. She's spending her last few days dozing in the sunshine under my garden seat, surrounded by her feathery pals. It's all very sad, and I'm very pleased that today we discovered her enthusiasm for sponge cake - if she leaves us overnight at least she'll have had a last tasty treat (of course I don't usually feed the chickens sponge cake, that would be a waste, but this was a special occasion).
Anyway, I'll write more about Mildred another time. Today I want to talk about running.
Back in February I mentioned that I'd joined the local running club for their programme aiming to get people to running 5k. I've run 5k before, of course, but most of the other people hadn't, and it's been an absolutely lovely experience running with others twice a week, gradually going further and even a teensy bit faster.
In the middle of March we ran our local organised 5k run, and we even made the local newspaper. The following Monday we met for our first 'progressives' run - working our way up to 10k, and to being able to go out with the main running club each week (they run for an hour at a time). On Tuesday, the restrictions came into force, and our running group could no longer meet.
Since then, we've each been running on our own and posting our achievements on the group Facebook page. Our slower group also has a group chat, where we encourage and celebrate each other (and before all this, we arranged extra weekend runs). Sadly most of the women in there are struggling to get out on their own, and I think most of them have given up on aiming for 10k for now.
It's so much harder to get out there on your own. I knew that before, of course - that's the reason I joined the group in the first place. I've never trained consistently before now, and while I only went out twice a week with the running group, it was twice every week, which meant I was running more regularly than I ever have.
Now, of course, I don't have that, and even though our leader is valiantly trying to keep us motivated virtually, it's not quite the same.
Still, I have been getting out twice every week, and I can't complain one bit, because while many people are being told expressly to stay away from beauty spots and national parks, I find myself living in one, and unable to leave. Of course, this means that I have to run close to home, which means one thing - hills.
So. Many. Hills. Previously our running group complained about the hills we were being forced to run up each week, but they were nothing to the hills out here. Nothing at all. And I can't avoid them (unless I run up and down the same short stretch of flattish road several times I suppose). I'm trying to embrace them though - to enjoy the downhills, and run the bits of the uphills that I can, and just accept that I'm going to have to walk the rest.
I think I'm getting fitter, although it's hard to tell with all these hills. I went out the other day and felt like my legs belonged to someone else - they were a combination of stiff and jelly-like and I ended up taking a sneaky shortcut home along a footpath through a field.
I'm going to get out again tomorrow morning though, before I talk myself out of it, while the sun is shining. Even if I don't run much of it, I'll still get a bit of scenery, which I don't take at all for granted at the minute given that it's being denied to many people.
I don't know how long all this is going to last, but one thing I'm very much looking forward to is running with other people again. It's not something I've ever really done before, but it made such a difference. I really don't want to lose fitness now though and have to start all over again, so out I'll go, running from my front door, pretending the clouds are a mountain range.
Sometime last week (or was it the week before?) we woke to snow.
Not very much snow, but snow nevertheless. The chickens at first weren't impressed, then they were curious, and then in no time at all they were strutting round like it had been snowing all their lives.
Incidentally, this picture of Rusty reminded me of a similar picture of our dear departed Hermione, taken in the snow this time last year, just before her and Luna's untimely demise, which means we must have had these new ladies for almost a year now.
Speaking of chickens, Beaky isn't very well at the minute. She's been a little off colour for a few days, and has been living inside with us again, having an Epsom salts bath every morning. Some days she seems better, some worse, so she's off to the vets again in the morning for a quick check over. Poor little thing.
Anyway, I was talking about the snow.
It was very scenic, but not very heavy, and it didn't stick around very long either - the perfect sort of snow for wandering in, admiring, but not getting stuck in on the way to work. Most convenient.
I wasn't the only one who'd been out and about in the snow.
It was gone after a couple of days, and since then it's felt like we've had incessant howling wind and rain, sometimes even inside the house.
Bring back the snow I say.
If you asked me my favourite season I'd usually tell you it was autumn. Not this year though. This year autumn is filled with torrential rain and mud.
My favourite wellies sprung a leak, and I've done an experimental repair with Sugru. You can see where it's a more shiny yellow across the front. So far they're holding up well.
I've been trying to throw myself into the season, and a couple of weeks ago a friend and I visited a little local autumnal event, which was most jolly.
We have had the occasional glimpse of sunshine between downpours.
But the sun never seems to last long before it starts raining again.
Yesterday I'd arranged to meet a friend in a local cafe, and I was determined to walk there. I've been spending so much time either indoors or driving that I felt the need to move. There was a brief break in the showers, and I togged up as much as I could and set off.
Hmm, that's a small river running through one of our fields.
I did get a bit wet, but the overriding feeling was one of greyness. I took these pictures at lunchtime, and look how dark it is!
There was water everywhere, of course, and I was glad my wellies were holding up.
The sun did come out eventually (for about five minutes), and we had lunch in the cafe and then a jolly afternoon putting the world to rights over a nice cup of tea. Maybe autumn's not so bad after all.
When I lived in the city, I walked all the time - to work, to the shops, to see friends. Now I live out in the wilds, none of those things are within easy walking distance (well, I could walk to the local shop, but it's a round trip of an hour and a half). As a result, I barely walk at all in day to day life without making a special effort.
I'm off work for a fortnight now, and decided it was about time I made that special effort. I arranged to meet a friend (Sarah from Country Realist blog) in a cafe near her house, and set out to walk the six miles to get there.
I did this same journey in reverse, back in March I think, getting a lift over to meet my friend at her house and then walking home, so the paths felt vaguely familiar which was nice.
It rained on me at the start, but the sun soon came out again and after the first hour I was in a sleeveless top and regretting wearing two pairs of socks.
My route took me quite high up, and for a lot of the way I could see for miles.
The wild flowers aren't as plentiful as they were a few weeks ago but there were still plenty about.
I arrived five minutes late, which on a walk of almost two and a half hours isn't bad timing at all.
Cake always tastes much better when you've earned it, doesn't it?
We're not going on holiday this year, but at the minute we seem to be having a whirlwind of mini adventures instead. I like a mini adventure - not too much travelling and home in time for tea. And who doesn't love a day out?
Back at the start of June I took myself to Lower Hurst Farm, which had an event as part of Open Farm Sunday. They produce organic beef, and it was interesting to hear about the way they manage their farm for wildlife as well as farming. I had a bit of a wander around their nature trail before I left.
Later in June, we took ourselves to Nottingham for the day.
Funny how all of our adventures seem to involve tea (I think that last one is Sheffield, not Nottingham).
Towards the end of June I dug my bike out of the garage. It's got a slow puncture, and I keep meaning to fix it, but at the minute it stays inflated for a good couple of hours of riding so the urgency just isn't there.
I love these old railway trails that have been turned into cycle paths.
Not all of our adventures have been quite so sunny.
Last weekend I went to visit my mother, and we went up Leasowe lighthouse. I don't think I've ever been up a lighthouse before. It was decommissioned over a hundred years ago but is being lovingly restored by a group of volunteers who run tours in the summer.
Incidentally, I think that was the first time I've seen the sea this year, which is outrageous.
The following day I drove to Lincolnshire, completely the opposite side of the country, for a tutorial for my permaculture diploma (which I will be finishing soon). My tutor (Hannah at The Inkpot Farm) raises organic free range turkeys (and sheep, cows, goats, and all kinds of other things). I'd never seen a young turkey before - these are about nine weeks old, and seemed surprised to take off when they flapped their wings.
Closer to home, we've been to Bakewell a couple of times this week, and found grapes growing in a courtyard above a cafe.
No adventures today, it's been far too hot for anything other than lying around reading. At the minute I'm reading all I can about meadows as I try to decide what to do with ours, and how best to restore it to its former glory. More on that soon when I've cooled down a bit.
We've had some glorious weather round here lately. I stopped on the way to work the other day to take this picture, which I've been meaning to do for months but the conditions have never been quite right (and after all that I snapped in a rush and got the phone wire too - oh well!)
I've been unexpectedly busy at work lately, which has taken up a lot of head space. And the garden is growing, my greenhouse is overflowing with plants that are too big for their pots, and I have slight palpitations every time I look at a dry stone wall as they all seem to be falling down in front of my eyes.
Still, we are here, and things are peaceful aside from the chaffinch that calls outside the window for sixteen hours a day.
And I now have a phone which will take photographs, and will also supposedly let me write blog posts, although this is the third time I've typed this now and it's still not let me post. So while I was going to say that will encourage me to post more often, we'll have to see whether that happens.
In the meantime, here's Bessie flouting the 'no chickens on the furniture' rule.
I've been working at home a lot since Christmas, and I'm spending a lot of time sitting down.
When we lived in the city, working at home wasn't a problem - it wasn't every day, and there were plenty of other places to walk to. Here, we are just a little bit too far away to walk to anywhere, and so if I want some exercise, I have to consciously go for a walk.
This isn't really a problem, of course - it's just that going for a walk feels like it requires more planning than just nipping to the shops. Walking boots for a start, and maybe even a rucksack and a map.
Well, thinking like that was getting me nowhere. Instead, I abandoned the rucksack, and the map, and all thoughts of 'hiking' or 'trekking', and decided to keep things a little more simple (that's usually a good plan in life, I find).
Each morning I get up, dress quickly, make a cup of tea in my travel mug, pull on my wellies, let the chickens out - and keep going up the drive.
It's nice and simple. I'm already out of the house, I already have tea (with a lid), and there's no planning required. I have to let the chickens out reasonably early, so my walks usually start before 8am (they were starting closer to 7am until the clocks changed).
It's lovely and peaceful out there at that time in the morning, whatever the weather (and there has been quite a variation in weather so far this year).
Of course it's been more pleasant since the better weather arrived (I hope I'm not speaking too soon - the wind and rain are howling through the windows this evening).
I have a few little loops of a mile or so round the lanes and footpaths. I refuse to go much further without eating breakfast. A mile is enough time to wake up a bit, finish my tea, and arrive back home refreshed and alert, ready to start work.
Now the lighter nights are here, I'm hoping to incorporate an evening walk too as a nice way of ending the working day and getting a bit of fresh air before making tea.
Might have to fix my wellies first though - one of them appears to have sprung an unhelpful leak.
As I often do at this time of year, I've started running again. Not very far, not very fast.
My running is precarious at this time. I find it very easy to give up again, and so it's useful to make it enjoyable rather than 'just exercise'.
This morning I knew I'd be driving past Tittesworth Reservoir, so I went out in my running kit and planned an out and back route up one side.
The weather wasn't as bad as I'd expected, so I ended up going all the way round. Some running, some walking, and a lot of stopping to take photographs.
It was breezy and cold, and the sun flitted in and out of the clouds, but I quite like that kind of weather for a run, it makes me feel like I'm having an adventure (albeit a very mild one).
I'd done just over 4.5 miles by the time I got back to the car, and I was cold and windswept. The cafe was open, but I saved that for another day and came home for a cup of tea and a hot bath.
I could get used to this running lark (again).
Sit down and make yourself comfortable. I'm Jenni, and I write here about our new foray into country living, which includes growing food, knitting, baking, wandering around the fields, and seeing which local cafe serves the best cake.