September is my favourite month for many, many reasons.
The end of September always makes me a little sad but but I am always looking forward very much to the next one.
It is filled with lovely things for us:-
It is the month we take our main annual holiday
It is the month of Burghley Horse Trials
It is the month of harvest
It is the month of Sandringham Game Fair
It is a month when we do most of our walking
It is the month when the best fungi appear.
It is the month of Food Festivals across the country. Ludlow being our favourite.
It is the month for Bramble picking & making Jam.
It is the month of Indian Summers when the heat has left the sun but the cold months are not showing themselves yet.
It is the month we got our hound and collected him when he was just 8 weeks old.
And it is the month we got married
It feels like an age since we were on the beach with Max and his little blue ball and this warm weather really makes you want to be somewhere with a cool breeze and easy access to the water.
This heat is very hard on dogs and owners are frighteningly careless with their 4 legged friend’s wellbeing at this time of year.
There are too many tales of windscreens having to be smashed to relieve a distressed and possibly dying dog in a hot car. Too many feet injuries from hot tarmac and surfaces that we protect ourselves against with shoes.
We’re pretty diligent and since Max now has fur (long story), he feels the heat much more than before. He didn’t have a high rate of tolerance for it at the best of times and has been to drag along on his late afternoon/early evening second walk when it is warm and humid.
He is a terrier however and he isn’t beyond baking himself on the decking before retreating to the shade panting like a steam train but he’s able to control that.
It is easy for a little dog to forget about cooling off when he is tanking around enjoying ourself when it is hot. And I think it is easy for owners to forget too.
The beach offers the chance to cool off in the water and as long as there is fresh water to drink (the effects of drinking sea water are pretty unpleasant, rapid and can be quite dramatic), it’s the best place to be in the sunshine.
Even so, JC found a novel way to cool Max right down. He was buried up to his neck in cool damp sand while we were taking a well earned rest and a bit of a snooze over the papers.
He loved it and stayed there for ages. He even managed 40 winks at one point.
This weekend of blistering temperatures and the threat of summer actually arriving, has reminded me of a weekend we were lucky enough to disappear on recently.
It was a gloriously sunny and fun weekend in the peak district to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in far too long.
We booked a cottage that catered for all our needs, that was in a rural location but also close to the amenities of a little market town called Wirkworth.
We did brilliantly well with our choice and the cottage was amazing. Recently converted from a barn just next to a very pretty public footpath, it afforded us quite a lot of privacy but the occasional distraction from passers by; especially since Max decided to greet each and every one with his big bark!!
It was just what we all needed. We went with absolutely no expectations and found it completely charming and far better that we could have hoped.
We had good weather, gorgeous surroundings, great company and enough beer to kill a man. What else do you need?
Everyone mucked in, there was lots of booze drunk, rubbish spoken and food eaten and it couldn’t have been better.
Mostly we just chilled out at the gorgeous, gorgeous and perfectly appointed cottage. We played cards around the garden table or set up tennis (for the more energetic amongst us), we read, we chatted (a lot!!) and thoroughly relaxed.
When we did venture out (we were very tempted to stay put but really felt that we had to see more than the wonderful view from the barn garden), we were just as happy with what we found and some of it came as a complete surprise.
We had briefly passed through Matlock Baths on the Friday night as we arrived, so we decided to go and wander through this sleepy little ribbon town on Sunday morning. We would grab a coffee, maybe an ice cream and enjoy the peace and quiet of the riverbank walk and it’s pretty shops. It should be pretty quiet leading up to lunchtime.
I think we were the only people in the whole county who DIDN’T know that every Sunday, Matlock Baths is overrun with bikes and scooters of all shapes and sizes as well as the diverse collection of people that ride them.
Every single parking space along the length of the village has 2 wheels parked in it and even the station car park was struggling to accommodate the 4 wheels that had chosen to visit at the same time.
JC got some cracking shots of some of the bikes (clearly someone’s pride and joy) and the irony of the huge, seemingly out of place, ‘think bike’ sign wasn’t missed on us – you really couldn’t help thinking about bikes since it was practically all there was as far as the eye could see.
Once we thought about it, it made sense that this funny little place couldn’t sustain about 8 fish and chip shops a greater number of cafes and 2 bike wear shops without something spectacular like the sunday pilgrimage to contribute to the coffers.
Everyone was clearly happy and there was a nice vibe.
Not remotely what we had expected but quite wonderful all the same.
We eaked out as much of the weekend as we could and didn’t leave until the latest possible (our booking was until monday am but we all had to get back for work!! boohoo) with another walk to check out the local station of Wirkworth and the sweet town centre itself.
These small towns are clearly affected by the out of town supermarkets and the change in our shopping habits but it is hanging on in there. Like all small market towns, it has it’s problems but it is surviving. It has retained its charm and there are a handful of brilliant little retailers as well as decent pubs and I hope it lasts.
We are going to make this little weekend an annual event now because we were so taken by the place and the surroundings. We’ll be booking it well in advance so we aren’t disappointed.
I’m looking forward to it already!!
These gorgeous flowers are sadly finished but they lasted amazingly well.
They are peonies and just about the most perfect choice of flowers for me; they are pretty, not formal looking, they are simple and they are white.
They came as a thank you from V for having Agnes for the day while they were away.
They have been beautiful and lovely to see every day but they were completely unnecessary as having Agnes was so much fun and we’d do it again in a flash.
The flowers kept their form and colour and only started to droop 2 weeks or so.
I think I am going to treat myself to a vase of these every week or so from now on, I love them so much.
Unlike the title might suggest, Horse Boarding is NOT a form of torture.
It is an equestrian sport and it is tremendous fun!!
And what’s more, I can’t believe I have been in the dark about this fantastic sport for the 5 years since it was originated in the UK.
There is a horse boarding association.
They have a Facebook page.
There are national horse boarding championships.
There is membership, a magazine, courses and endless videos but I still didn’t know about it until yesterday!!
We went to Burghley Game and Country Fair which we have done for a couple of years now. It is a good opportunity to stock up on all things country and country sports. There is more camo and green clothing than you can shake a stick at but there are also great fun demonstrations and competitions.
We always watch whatever is on in the main ring as we shop, we always check out the dog agility and terrier classes, the birds of prey and we always check out the food village.
We went a lot earlier today than normal and I think that may be why we caught the fly fishing demonstration, bought some (more) green clothing and most importantly managed to catch the Horse Boarding spectacle!!
I love horses and spent a lot of time around them as a kid. I wasn’t always involved in the proceedings but I was an enthusiastic spectator and helper. As a result of my close dealings with them, I love them, their smell and a lot of horsey sports are of interest to me. I don’t ride anymore, if I could do it all the time, I would take it up again (I really don’t fancy walking like a gun toting cowboy every few months because my thigh muscles have ‘forgotten’ what they are for between times!!) but I don’t have enough time for less demanding things so taking up horses again would be impossible right now.
Anyway, yesterday was soooo much fun to watch. One of the team horses is Lord Atterbury whoh is a retired race horse who was one of only 13 finishers about 4 years ago in the Grand National.
Apart from Burghley being just lovely as a venue, we already enjoy the horse trials in september and will continue to go for years to come, this country fair and the sandringham one are a great way to get close to the country sports that both JC and I have been involved with since we were kids.
We live in the city now but our weekend jaunts to the countryside allow us to dip into these lovely pass times every now and again.
We didn’t stay for the 3pm final as the sun had brought a lot of visitors out and it was getting very crowded by lunchtime but we will be looking out for it again and the teams that entertained us so well yesterday.
Good luck in the championships Do or Die, The Dead Pigeons, Kauldren & Designated Drinkers!
We are very lucky living in London.
Everything is here and I love it.
There are wide open spaces, incredible amounts of wildlife, galleries that are free to enter, ever evolving architecture, a busy river, a comprehensive transport system, more restaurants than you can shake a stick at and some of the best tourist attractions there are in the world.
I spend a lot of time in London at meetings and on sites but I am guilty, like most London residents, of not taking advantage of anywhere near enough of the amazing things that sit on my very doorstep.
As usual this is only put to rights when we get visitors who want to take in the sights.
JC’s sister and her other half joined us for a weekend a few weeks ago.
And it gave us the perfect chance to soak in some sights.
We don’t see them often enough and it is a real shame as we get on really well. The boys used to hang around in the same groups when they were troublesome teens and JC’s and his sis have been pretty close in the past.
Both ‘kids’ were bought a weekend away by JC’s mum for Christmas. A great present that took us off to the gorgeous countryside along the Thames in Oxfordshire and theirs brought them down to London to see us.
We saw the inside of a few pubs & coffee shops but we did lots of walking. Even though it was bitterly cold, it gives you plenty of opportunities to stop off for something to eat or a warming drink. We had a great time wandering along, chatting, sight seeing and generally catching up while soaking in the surrounds.
London is very small really and if you aren’t in a hurry, you can link up with some fantastic sights and catch a few more besides if you look out.
There are lots of surprises.
And it is constantly changing (whether through your perception of it or actually changes).
You should look up too, there are some wonders and delights above the eye line that lots of people miss in their mission to get somewhere particular but a wander and a gander is to be recommended.
Some of your discoveries may not be quite along the lines of what you expect as I found at the royal courts of justice where some eejit had grafittied my name (nearly). Great fun for a photo but a real shame to see it.
Especially when there is some incredible graffiti around the city that has become a tourist attraction in itself.
We covered miles and caught up loads as well as seeing some bits of london that we haven’t seen for a very long time and enjoyed some of the great things that it continues to offer.
I can’t actually wait to do it again.