A Weekend in Cumbria

Happy Thursday, loves! I hope it’s a kind one, wherever you are in the world.

I haven’t been up to a whole lot lately, as Jon has been ill. He’s been working from home, and I’ve been working on some creative projects. We booked my flight back to Canada for September 5th, as it’s much cheaper to do so now instead of later, but it’s really thrown me for an emotional loop. I always knew this was just a visit, but it really feels like home. And I would give anything for it to be so.

Last weekend, we went up to Cumbria on a weekend trip. We’d had this trip planned since probably January, if not earlier, and we were going to stay with one of Jon’s friend and former coworkers, Paul, and his lady, Tessa. Another of Jon’s former colleagues, Mark, was coming as well along with his wife, Julia, and we were planning on a beach bbq amongst other nice things, so we were all really looking forward to it.

The week seemed to start off well. On Monday, we celebrated the birthday of one of Jon’s cousins by going to a lovely Indian restaurant in Ibstock. It was a great evening, despite high humidity; I enjoyed a glass of Prosecco with my salmon & scallops dish, and we just gorged ourselves on awesome food. One of the children was recovering from a stomach virus, and her mother suddenly got it in the middle of dinner and kept having to run to the toilets to hurl. I figured we’d be all right, since we were sitting at a separate table and didn’t come into physical contact with anyone.

But the wee hours of Wednesday told us otherwise, and all four of us were quickly struck by it (Jon’s father and brother didn’t attend, so they were all right) and incapacitated for nearly two days. It was horrible. I was to the point of not being able to move because I was getting motion sickness, and Jon and I were both sleeping on and off all Wednesday, utterly miserable and BAKING because it was the hottest day of the year.

Fortunately we’d fully recovered by Thursday night, and we got packed up and ready for our trip.

On Friday, we drove to Tamworth Station and awaited our first train of the day…

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From there we were on a 20-minute trip to Birmingham New Street Station, where we waited for another train…

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From there it was on to Lancaster, a trip that took a few hours to make. Time passed quickly as I gazed out the window, and before I knew it, we were getting off the train to catch the final one of the day, a 20 minute ride to Arnside. From there, Paul picked us up and drove us the rest of the way, about forty minutes to his home in the bayside village of Scales. This is the view as we curved around the River Leven, which opens up into Morecambe Bay.

11709421_10153107093813337_3985679891368875169_nWe stopped at a couple shops in Ulverston to pick up some alcohol and breakfast food, and I got a picture of the hilltop lighthouse that the town is famed for:

11698500_10153107124623337_4751885993938600359_nAnd Ulverston itself, which was quiet on a Friday evening…
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When we got to Paul’s place, Tessa was busy making homemade pizza and cakes. We settled in for a few minutes, met the pet gerbils, and took the tour of the house. It’s a very old house, and the oldest part is the living room area and dates to the 17th century with heavy wooden beams that are painted black. It’s a lovely place and I immediately took to its charm! Mark and Julia wouldn’t be arriving for another hour, so Paul decided to take Jon and I to Barrow in Furness, on the southwest side of the peninsula, to see the town and the beach.

You get a spectacular view of Morecambe Bay from the top of the hill in Scales, and as the tide was out, it stretched in ribbons of silver, brown, and tan. Barrow in Furness was decidedly quiet that evening, and the setting sun was beautiful and golden as we parked the car and headed to the beach.

We were standing in Duddon Channel, which opens up into the Irish Sea. Since the tide was so far out, we were able to walk a good ways out onto muddy sand that was wonderfully speckled with seashells and smooth stones. It was very windy out on the sand, almost to the point of being cold. Windswept, we made our way back to dry sand, then to grass and pavement, where Jon and I attempted to clear our shoes of all the gunk. I think Paul will be hoovering sand out of his car for months… oops!

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11411910_10153107125393337_2462834048377512191_oA mysterious stone circle!

10986644_10153107125063337_3005561650471587585_oBy the time we got back to the house, Mark and Julia had arrived, and the pizzas were just about ready. They were top notch!! We spent the evening drinking nice things, eating nice things, and watching hilariously stupid things like Pirahnaconda and, of course, The Room, because four of us had seen it many times and had to corrupt the other two in the room with its weirdness.
11667436_10153107093743337_9170301613523666568_nNot long later, thunderstorm rolled across the bay, and we all stood just outside under the covered porch and watched it as it brought beautiful lightning and sweeping sheets of rain.

We meant to start out early Saturday morning to get to the Lake District, but Jon and I slept in so we were delayed in going. The drive up was gorgeous; the tide was in at Morecambe Bay, and the water looked like silver crushed velvet. Everything was so green, and Coniston Water shared the shimmering shade of the bay under gathering clouds.

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10986802_10153107126013337_7264445019643483933_oBeach bikers!

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The sun started trying to come out when we began making our way back around to the village.

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11705406_10153107126633337_6713710918085723656_oWe had a late lunch at a pub in the village, and I discovered the glory of a sandwich with thick bacon, tons of melted Brie, and cranberry. It was divine!

After we got back, we prepared for our bbq on Morecambe Bay. Paul and Mark walked there to set up, and about an hour later the rest of us piled food and supplies into Tessa’s car and we drove over. After parking, it’s about a 5-10 minute walk to the spot that the guys chose, and it’s tiring when hauling bags of stuff! The fire starter ended up not working, and we were missing plastic flatware and a burger flipper besides, so Tessa, Jon and I went back to the car and drove to get them.

By the time we got back, Paul had ended up getting the bbq fired up anyway. We sat on the jumbled rocks and enjoyed burgers, sausages and drinks as the evening lengthened, and shared a lot of laughs. We set up a small fire for roasting marshmallows and for smoking out the thousands of mosquitoes that whirred over our heads, and the guys got a little too enthusiastic about piling on the wood.
11145074_10153107127133337_5199302644111206226_oAs the sun set, everything turned soft shades of lavender and pink. We kept hearing these strange rumblings and boomings from across the bay, and we thought it maybe came from Centrica Energy, the power plant across the water in Heysham. It sounded like thunder, but there were no storm clouds anywhere, and it went on for a couple hours. It was rather spooky, to be honest, especially when Jon and I wandered off so I could take a few pics.
11728764_10153107127143337_2034936857936415639_oMorecambe and Heysham on the horizon.

11713856_10153107127323337_8523711313194590405_oBecause of the solitude and the increase in loud rumblings, we were still a little spooked when darkness began to fall and we packed up to leave. This feeling increased when we came across a dead rabbit in the path, still limp and with no visible injuries. Poor fellow 🙁 But we got back to the house safely, and I showered to get rid of the smell of smoke and fire before we all settled down to watch tv.

The next morning we had a great fry-up for breakfast before getting ready to leave. We were supposed to be at the Arnside train station before 2pm to catch our first train, but after we’d gotten there and Paul and Tessa dropped us off, we discovered that no such train existed on a Sunday. The next one was in nearly two hours, which rendered pretty much all of our tickets useless. Jon couldn’t get through to Paul, and by the time he got enough reception to call a taxi, none could get us to Lancaster before our next train left. So we began to panic, but all we could really do was wait the two hours and hope that we weren’t charged a high penalty fee for having expired tickets.

At least there was a nice view of water and mountains behind the station-?

11028003_10153107094308337_7768370393533140744_nIn the end, it was all right. Nobody even checked our tickets until the very last train, and that fellow was very pleasant and said they were fine. We rode through an intense rain and wind storm where the skies were nearly black, and then it was just grey clouds until I saw a peek of blue on the horizon. “Hey, maybe that’s Tamworth,” I joked. As it turns out, it was close enough! The sun came back out in its golden evening glory about a half hour before we reached Tamworth, and I was so grateful to get in the car I couldn’t even stand it. And that was the end of our Cumbria adventure.

I wish we could have stayed longer with Paul and Tessa. They, Mark, and Julia have all become my friends now, and I’m thankful for them. Our adventures will continue early next month when we all go visit Mark and Julia in Birmingham, which thankfully isn’t such a long journey! 🙂 And hopefully one day, when I’ve returned to the UK, we can all go up again to Cumbria and the Lake District.

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