Checking out by hire car the many riding possibilities accessible from my new front door and garage in Keswick, Cumbria. These roads are “Nice but deadly”. Some long and straight, routes laid by the Romans, some with plenty of curves. Huge landscapes and skyscapes: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Sussex anymore”. But the most enjoyable big roads, like the A686 to Alston, including the climbs to Hartside Cross (575 m.), are bedecked with speed camera signs and warnings of a high casualty rate. Bikers beware.
The popular cafe at the summit of Hartside Fell climb burnt down a couple of years ago and there’s no sign yet of it being rebuilt but happily this area’s still good for artisan bakeries offering biker-warming coffee as well as sticky buns.
Plenty of opportunities also for off-road and I didn’t see a single “No Motors” sign, there are numerous drover and quarry routes both up on the moors and fells or down in the Vale of Eden. So lots of possible interest there and an off-road bike would be different from what I know. But first you have to get there, which means using the more major roads or following the “all traffic” parts of the cyclists’ network.
And I should also point out the hail and the sleet, not to mention the overnight frosts; even in mid-April: it was -4.6°C in my garden here overnight last weekend. So not a surprise that the bikers I did see out on two wheels were wrapped up particularly warmly with plenty of layers.
ROC Post Threlkeld must be in one of the most scenic locations of all the 1563 Observer Corps observation posts all over the UK which were established or repurposed from wartime use in 1956.
It’s an underground concrete bunker designed to resist nuclear attack, a “Protected Post”. The floor is about 5 m. below the access hatch and is reached by a vertical ladder. There’s a ventilator at the other end of the underground chamber, the dimensions are about 5 m. x 2 m. x 2 m. There’s a telephone line but no mains electricity or water. An observation platform was also required, ROC Keswick/Threlkeld has a small tower built of local stone for this purpose.
Sweeping the chimney... another use for these face masks we’ve all got a stache of now. Soot is an irritant and the fine particulate dust isn’t good to breathe. The chimney is capped so unfortunately no photo of the brush poking out of the top. The temporary curtain across the fireplace is to contain the soot and dust which previous owners didn’t sweep out when they stopped burning coal here.
It’s a fine ornamental fireplace: I’m presuming all the rock specimens are local but it’s going to take some time and specialist help to identify them all
That’s an electric fire on the left - there is central heaing here though it’s only just about managing and is scheduled for urgent replacemnt.
Château Beau-Site, St Estèphe, 2000. Cru bourgeois exceptionnel.
Syrupy is the first word which came to mind on tasting this wine. Nothing wrong, a fine aged claret from the village of Saint-Estèphe on the banks on the Gironde estuary, but it was a little unexciting and now maybe slightly past its peak, now nearly-too-old. Château Beau-Site is a distinct appelation in the Médoc area, so more specific than a Médoc. Château Beau-Site is one of several vineyards in the area owned by the Castéja family, long-time négotiants of Bordeaux.
The wine had a pleasing complexity but oxidised fairly rapidly in half an hour or so after drawing the cork (which had split), but by then this fine claret had been a worthy accompaniment to the leg of lamb which I had roasted for our Easter Sunday dinner and some Stilton cheese.
The South Downs National Park has been fully open throughout the lockdowns, unlike many other National Parks in England. Its rolling downs and valleys are accessible on foot from many homes, giving a welcome relief from the mundane and banal tedium of life in lockdown. The grassy ramparts of Hollingbury Fort/Castle/Camp (178 m.) are the vestiges of an Iron Age hill fort which dominates the area, overseeing the City of Brighton, with panoramic views out to the English Channel, the Isle of Wight, Seaford Head, the Sussex Weald and the North Downs. Although much of the topographic feature is now a golf course owned and run by Brighton City Council, several Dew Ponds and some low forest remain in the surrounding area, unlike much of the rest of the South Downs which have been stripped to grassland for grazing. Then back to Preston Park via Surrenden Road in time to see a chilly sunset over Hove.
Colourfulflowers in the wonderful first rush of spring sunshine and before the storms bash the blooms. Fantastic to see colour again after this grim and grey winter in lockdown. These are flowers in and around the walled garden of Preston Manor, Brighton. Look out for the flowers around George the Brighton Pavilion cat’s memorial.