The one where we spent New Year in the Lake District

I originally intended on starting this post by wishing you a Happy New Year which would have been appropriate because I’d intended to write it during the first week in January. However, time has not been on my side and I’ve been frantically beavering away on my edits for Summer Nights at The Starfish Café with no time to write a blog post.

The second round of edits went off to my editor this morning and I’m busy trying to catch up on a million things I’ve missed … including this blog post. So I’ll start it instead by saying I hope the New Year is treating you well so far.

I don’t know about you but I’m not a fan of New Year. I think I had too many anti-climax nights out on New Year’s Eve when I was in my late teens and twenties and it has jaded me somewhat. I’ve also had some good New Years, but most of them haven’t turned out as hoped. I therefore haven’t been out for NYE for a very long time – can’t actually remember the last time – and I am usually in bed before midnight.

For many years now, I’ve found myself struggling with that period between Christmas and New Year, and the end of 2021/start of 2022 was the worst ever. The threat of another lockdown (which never happened) didn’t help but, even without that, I would have felt down. I can’t fully pinpoint why but I think it’s that feeling that I should take time out but, really, I’d rather be working. I’m also very mindful of the NY resolutions I’ve never kept (losing weight and getting fit, I’m looking at you!) and that brings me down too.

So, after a sombre NY a year ago, hubby and I decided to do something different and go away for a week after Christmas, meaning we’d be away over NY. It didn’t mean we’d physically go out and celebrate NYE – still anticipated being in bed before midnight – but we thought the change of scenery might be a good plan. So we booked a week in our spiritual home of Keswick and it did us the world of good.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I love Keswick and that it’s the area is where I’m going to be setting a brand new series starting in the summer this year. I’ll be writing my first chapters on Wednesday and I’m so excited to get going.

The weather wasn’t particularly kind to us with rain most of the time but, hey, it’s the Lakes and they wouldn’t be what they are without the rain. Sadly, the companies making outdoor clothing seem to think that women bigger than size 18 don’t walk and it’s pretty much impossible to get hold of decent waterproof walking gear in my size (bigger than 18) so being out and about in the rain and cold is a challenge and it meant we couldn’t venture too far. So, a huge shout out to those companies – bigger sizes please!!!!

Keswick looked beautiful with the Christmas lights on, although my photos (in the rain) really don’t do it justice…

There’d been so much rainfall recently that Derwent Water had risen significantly, covering many of the wooden jetties. There was a flood warning and some of the campsites on the lake edge had an evacuation order in place for the caravans and lodges closest to the lake.

If you look at the pics below, you can see the jetty is flooded. And check out that tyre and swing – wouldn’t want to play on those!

Our holiday cottage (one of the white ones in the second image) was in a great location, five minutes’ walk to the bottom of town. It overlooked Fitz Park where the river was looking particularly swollen.

While our daughter stayed in the holiday cottage one day to do some revision (she’s doing her GCSEs this year), hubby and I had a walk to the area that is providing the main inspiration for my Lakes series … but I’ll hold off on showing any photos of that area for now as I want to save them for when I launch the series.

We wandered down to the water’s edge again and it was very different to when we’d visited over Easter. I’ve included photos of the same view (roughly) the first with the blue sky taken at Easter and the overcast one over New Year. Still stunning, though, in both types of weather! In the fourth photo below, the mountain beyond the pathway is Cat Bells which we had to abandon over Easter when the weather came in but hope to conquer over Easter this year.

On another day, hubby and I went for a walk round the other side of Derwent Water. It absolutely bucketed it down and, by the time we got back to the cottage, every part of me was wet – even my underwear. Nice!

Again, I have a comparison pic. There are a pair of stones called the Millennium Stones. When we visited previously, you could see them fully out of the water. This time, with the lake so high, they were only just peeking out. I’m pointing at the top of them on the photo!

And then, after a cold, wet, overcast week, the sun came out … on the day we were leaving! And what a difference a bit of blue sky makes! It was frosty and really quite beautiful as I took Ella out for a walk in the park. Again, my photos don’t fully do it justice. The peak you can see in the first one is Latrigg (which we did conquer over Easter, although it’s one of the smaller ones) and the snowy-capped one in the second image is (or is near) Skiddaw (not 100 per cent sure which peak is actually Skiddaw but it is in that range).

We didn’t venture far from Keswick during our week – only going out on foot – but we decided to drive home via Bowness-on-Windermere where the weather was even nicer, but still very cold. Loving that change in light towards the end of the day.

While I was away, I had a chance to catch up briefly with one of my friends, the amazingly talented artist Lucy Pittaway. Lucy has a gallery in Keswick which was actually right opposite the bottom of the street we walked down to get to town. She was holidaying in the area too so it was lovely to meet up for a couple of drinks. It never enters my head to take a photo of us together until after we part company, so here’s a picture of Lucy’s gallery instead. If you’re not familiar with Lucy’s work, do check out her website here.

Would I advocate going away over New Year? Absolutely yes. So much so that we’ve already booked to do the same this year, although a different location.

My one learning was that I shouldn’t go aiming to work. I took my first round of edits with me and, using the rain as an excuse, spent way too much time in front of my laptop trying to work on them. I got very little done for the amount of hours attempted. I need to use time away as a break and, if I do need to do some work, it either needs to be writing a first draft or doing the final read-through where limited brain power is required.

Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the photos

Big hugs
Jessica xx

2 thoughts on “The one where we spent New Year in the Lake District

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