Allan Bank

I have been to Allan Bank in Grasmere lots of times. Today’s visit involved spotting a Calvert Trust Herdy called Hethrington and coffee with Chris. 


Another one spotted
Hethrington keeping guard
 For those who don’t know what Allan bank is, it’s a National trust property perched on a hill looking majestically down over Grasmere. 

It was the home of William Wordsworth for a while and whilst condemning it as ugly when it was built, he went on to say “The loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.


Wordsworth you were so right
 He only lived here for a couple of years as complained the fires smoked too much and fell out with the landlords. The next resident was Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust. He retired in 1917 to Grasmere, where he had bought Allan Bank in 1915. He died in 1920, leaving Allan Bank to the Trust. 

In March 2011 there was a fire at Allan Bank, the National Trust decided that the house should be restored and open to the public. Which it did in May 2012. Whilst the house has been restored, it has been left shabby. No shrines to its famous dwellers. Each room is themed with a different activity. 

 The view from the study is one you could sit and stare at all day, I wonder how they ever got any work done?!

There’s a dressing up room, the outfits more suited to children boo 😦 but hats fits and Peter rabbit hugs are one size fits all! 

If you find yourself in Grasmere, take the short walk and visit this place. 


Ladies of Lakeland

Ashton memorial 

How many times have you driven up/down the M6 near Lancaster and thought what is that dome shaped building? Looking like a bit of St Paul’s cathedral has drifted north.

So I went to find out. The building is called Ashton memorial, a beautifully stunning building in Williamson park in Lancaster. The Ashton Memorial was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife. It was designed by John Belcher and completed in 1909. It cost £80,ooo. It was damaged  by fire in 1962, in 1981 the memorial was closed for safety reasons, it then reopened after being restored during 1985-87.  Today it hosts exhibitions, concerts and can be hired for private functions, including weddings.

At around 150 feet tall, it dominates the Lancaster skyline. It has been described as “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North”. The dome is externally made of copper, the main stone used is Portland stone although the steps are of hard wearing granite from Cornwall.

As you walk up through the park, the first glimpse you get of the memorial is breathtaking.

First glimpse
As you enter the building you are struck by the domed ceiling and stained glass windows.  

For a donation in a honesty box you can go upstairs to the viewing platform then to the upper floor gallery.  

Could see for miles

So glad that I finally went to explore this wonderful place.

Missing Mojo

When you are training for something, it is a complete pain in the arse when your running mojo decides to go AWOL.  That feeling of dread when it’s time for your planned run.  When you run and your mind doesn’t want to play ball and you end up in my case, having a panic attack and crying.

I guess, since I started running back in 1998 (that makes me feel so old) I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running.  Going in fits and starts, then entering a race to have a goal and some structure to my training.  I do quite like having a training plan in place, no matter what the weather, look at my plan, trainers on and off I go.  Over the years and especially living in the Lake District, I have been running in some awful weather.  I do quite like running in the rain and the hot shower afterwards always feels so good.

I think naivety is the best training tool.  When I did my first marathon, which ironically is the fastest one I have ever completed ( 4hrs 13), but I was 13 years younger!!  You don’t know the level of hard work ahead and because it is all new it kinda feels different and exciting.  I have run 4 marathons now, with experience I now know what my body can do or can’t as is the case at the moment.

For me it’s my lack of belief in myself and my running ability.  The mind is a very powerful tool, at times it can paralyze the body.  When I am running, I find this particularly on my longer runs,  it is the time when I am not distracting myself, so any negative thoughts hit me like a speed train.  It feels terrible and no endorphins in the world can counteract this.  It makes me think, all those you judge me or roll their eyes when I say about my running achievements are right.  Looking me up and down and saying “you run?”  Yes I am not skinny, I have boobs and no that doesn’t affect my ability to put trainers on and use my feet. It is easy for people to say how silly that is or don’t think that,  but the mind doesn’t do that, if it did life would be simple.

I did have glimmers of my mojo returning as I ventured out in my trail shoes.  Being in the hills meant I was too busy concentrating on not tripping over, to give my head time to think of anything else.  I loved it.  I was amazed at how much longer my minute miles were, but then thought a mile is a mile whether you take 8 minutes or 20 minutes.  It was more enjoyable being on this terrain.  I had a fantastic run with my friends The Colbys.  They are my running heroes.  I was very nervous when they said come out with us, getting worked up thinking “what if I am too slow for them” but I kept up.  I was chuffed when they said how well I ran.  13.5 miles in the fells on a gorgeous day, I felt 10 feet tall.

Then disaster struck and I tore my calf muscle a couple of weeks ago.  Gutted doesn’t cover it as I am now not going to be able to run in the London Marathon.  Hopefully with patience, though I am not the world’s most patient person, ice and help from my physio Sue, I will be back running in a couple of weeks and get my Lakeland 50 training back on track.  I think not being able to run has made me want to run even more.  Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery and head to be in a better place.  Now it’s officially British Summertime, the weather will be better.


Herdy spotting 

I’ve completely fallen in love with these herdy’s. A collection of 60 beautifully individually decorated herdwick sheep dotted around the south lakes and Keswick, creating an art trail throughout the county.

The sheep are a fundraiser for The Calvert Trust in Keswick, a very worthwhile cause.  The sheep will be displayed until September, then between 22nd-29th September the flock will be reunited at Rheged centre, Penrith.  Then they will be auctioned off.

The “Go Herdwick” guide can be bought at various shops through the lakes district.  I have mine and take great joy ticking off the ones I’ve seen and photographed. These are some of the ones I’ve spotted and photographed.


Beatrix’s Hill top house 

A rainy Sunday and thought don’t want to waste the day so thought let’s visit Hill Top at Far Sawrey, near Hawkshead. Plus get to use our National trust membership. 

 Beatrix Potter purchased Hill Top in 1905 and it remained a working farm during her lifetime and still is today. Hill Top was one of farms she left to the National Trust on her death in 1943.

It’s a very pretty house and can’t believe she had no electricity. This cottage was the inspiration for many of her books. 

What was lovely to see, were children clutching their Beatrix potter books running round excitedly spotting where characters would’ve been. 

Pint in front of the fire at the neighbouring Tower Bank Arms. Perfect. 

Will have to revisit in the summer when the garden is in full bloom. *adds to never ending list. 


Playing the tourist

It is true in life that you take for granted what is on your doorstep.  In the Lake District there is so much to do.  Any free time I have as you will have seen from previous blogs is spent in the hills.  I am a fair weather walker so with the inclement weather, decided to explore a couple of the local attractions.

First was Blackwell, an arts and crafts house situated just outside Bowness on Windermere.  I have been here thousands of times over the years with work as the café is one of my clients, but never ventured into the house.

 Blackwell was designed by the architect MH Baillie Scott.  It was built as a holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client Sir Edward Holt.  He created a masterpiece of twentieth-century design; a perfect example of the Arts & Crafts Movement of the time.  They used the house as a holiday home until the First World War, when their eldest son died.  The house was a school during the Second World War, after that it had several owners before opening as an attraction in 2001.

As you enter the house, the hallway draws you in.  It is a beautiful house and represents the style perfectly.  It reminds me of the neighbouring Windermere Boat Club, where I got married as has the same arts and crafts style. 

They are always changing the exhibitions.  I was there with work a couple of week ago and had these sculptures by Laura Ford.  Weird but wonderful.  I guess art is in the eye of the beholder.


Second was Abbot Hall, the art gallery in Kendal.  I had again visited countless times with work but never looked around.

 A group of local people came together to form a charitable trust in order to raise the money to save the building, and a long-term use for it needed to be found. It was decided to turn it into an art gallery.

Abbot Hall was built in 1759 by Colonel George Wilson, the second son of Daniel Wilson of Dallam Tower, a large house and country estate nearby. It was built on the site of the old Abbot’s Hall, which formerly stood roughly where the museum is today. Before the dissolution of the monasteries this was where the Abbot or his representative would stay when visiting from the mother church of St Mary’s, York.

In 1897 Abbot Hall was acquired by the Kendal Borough Council who wanted to turn its grounds into a public park for the town. When the Trust took it over in 1957, the house was in poor condition and had most recently been used as a Nursery School. The newly-formed Lake District Art Gallery Trust (now Lakeland Arts) raised the money for its renovation, and in 1962 it opened as an Art Gallery.

 Paintings hang downstairs by local artists George Romney and John Ruskin among others.  Furniture from Gillows of Lancaster are displayed.  When I visited the Gallery, it was the renowned artist ‘Caneletto’ which was on display.  Thoroughly enjoyed visiting both places and now have another ‘to visit’ list.

Curves rule 

I was reading a blog by a lady called Curvygirlthin and it inspired me to write this.

I think  we all wish we were just that little bit thinner well apart from those blessed with the skinny gene.  My love of all the things bad for me makes me curvy. I love food and drink  and a overactive knife and fork does not make you skinny.  My weight fluctuates, probably the same for most of the female population.   Having an under active Thyroid makes it hard at times to keep the weight off.  Why does everything which tastes so good have to be bad for me? Wobbly bits are the fun bits, who wants to shag a washboard?

People are so judgmental regarding size.  I encounter this all the time.  When most people meet me, they end up thinking my face is about 30 cm south from where it actually is.  Yes stop press I have boobs, they are not porn star huge, I don’t wear cleavage revealing tops (not that often) but yet you end up talking to them rather than my face.  When you meet someone for the first time, what do you see?  For me I always look into their eyes, you can tell a lot from people by looking into their eyes.

It doesn’t stop there, because of how I look, when I mention to people that I run and have completed marathons, they virtually eye roll.  One person even said “my daughter ran that in less time than you but then she is half your size” oh cheers for that.  Have a good sports bra and you can take on the world.  I don’t look like the typical runner,  but then  what is?  Does your size equate to level of fitness? No it doesn’t, well I don’t think so.  A mile ran is a mile ran whatever the time it takes you to do it.

With social media it does perpetuate this, is it right that I cannot post a picture without it being objectified? Yes it is flattering at times but it’s when it goes beyond that, not so much.  Maybe men are more forward than women?  If I see a picture and a guy looks fit and attractive, I would in my head think he’s hot and then move on without feeling the urge to message or bombard with requests of further more revealing pics.  There is the camp who I’m sure would say “if you post pictures you’re asking for that attention” but that is like saying “she was asking to be attacked because she’s dressed in a certain way”.  Maybe people are braver on the Internet?  People are much bolder on the keyboard than in real life it seems.

I have a really good friend, she has lost a staggering amount of weight and is still a curvy girl.  She was on a dating site and when she told a guy what dress size she was, he said I only date women who are a size 10-12 and you are too big for me.  When she relayed that to me I was livid.  How dare someone be so horrible!!  People don’t realise how hurtful they are with these throw away comments.

I guess what I am trying to say unless you are perfect yourself, don’t judge or if you do keep your thoughts to yourself.

Curves rule, most men would agree 😉



Light at the end of the tunnel 

After posting my heartfelt blog “behind every smile” about my battle with depression. was completely blown away by people’s response. The phrase “brave for sharing” was banded around. I guess it was brave to expose myself in that way for all to see. I think the stigma surrounding mental health is getting better, people are more accepting and understanding of it. 

Someone asked me when I write my blog, how do you perceive it coming across to others? I don’t really think about it, I just write, kind of like talking to myself. It feels cathartic writing things down. I never think people will read it but they do.

What was surprising, was the amount of people going through the same thing. People identifying with what I had written, which was a comfort and made me feel more normal. Whatever “normal” is.  I was completely overwhelmed by peoples messages of support. 

My counselling finished a few months ago. I’m on my own now. This is a scary thought. What has counselling taught me? That it’s ok and normal to not feel ok. To tell people that you are not ok. To just let the bad feelings ride and not try to control them. This is much harder that I thought and still find myself slipping back. Getting cross with myself for not being perfect. My counsellor said it is re training yourself so set backs are learning. I do feel better in myself but just recently felt a blip coming on, so it is back to my book and try to be my own counsellor.

People are too quick to say  “I am so depressed” and then by magic the next minute all is ok with the world. It makes me really cross. Having the odd “down” day does not mean you have depression. Not that I am now the expert before I get a barrage of abuse. Having been through it, it isn’t something which goes away fully you just learn to live with it and ride the bumps which come your way. My friend sent me this quote from a book: 

Depression is also… Smaller than you.Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky, but – if that is the metaphor – you are the sky.

You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud. 

 When things feel bad it never lasts forever. Keep heading for the light. 


3 times a champ 

I’m no stranger to being on Radio Cumbria. Usually to promote a running challenge I’m currently doing. A few months ago they rang to ask if I would do the Biz quiz.  They usually have a theme of who’s on that week. As I’m a blogger, I was pitting my brains against fellow Cumbrian blogger Beth. Unfortunately I lost by one point. I don’t like losing. 

How many times when you hear quizzes on the radio are you shouting and screaming the answers. It’s much harder doing it on the spot as your mind goes blank. Questions are only easy if you know the answers. 

So I was invited back on for their free for all Friday biz quiz. It’s winner stays on up to a maximum of 3 wins. This time I was on a winning streak and got my Biz quiz triple win crown. 

So thank you guys for inviting me on. Just waiting for my third certificate. 



I never take for granted living in the Lake District. So glad my ex made me run away to the lakes all those years ago. It’s nice staying away for the night so near to home, playing tourist in your home county. 

I was lucky to have an offer to stay a night at The Duke of Portland Boathouse on the shores of Ullswater.   I have driven past it many times and stopped to take its pic. I was intrigued to see what it was like inside. 

It originally belonged to the 3rd Duke of Portland (1738-1809), but he became involved in a nine-year legal battle with Sir James Lowther over lands in Carlisle they both claimed, and had to sell his Cumbrian assets to save himself from bankruptcy.

Ullswater is my favourite lake, so tranquil and not as busy as its cousins. Wordsworth called Ullswater “the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the lakes affords”.  He was right. 

The boathouse has been beautifully renovated. I loved the deep Japanese teak wooden bath, when filled with bubbles I needed a life buoy! 

No better view from the bedroom window. 

Amazing view to wake up to. 

   Luckily I did the naked shot before the hoards of photographers were on the shore at dawn to photograph the house. If you can’t beat them, join them! 

A truly wonderful stay, thank you David from Lake District Holidays for letting me stay at this wonderful property.

A few more snaps, then back to reality to adult day care.