Feeling Woolly

The Chronicles of a Dropped Stitch

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Category: The Great Outdoors

The Moors

Autumn.  One of my favourite times of year.  Colour changes in various plant life, and for us in this region of the UK, lucky enough to have had some beautiful warm and a little bit windy days!  Sun lowering itself in our skies helping to cast the most beautiful lighting,  which really shows off the colours in their splendour.

Resplendent Acer

But for me,  there is no better way to appreciate all this than to go walking in the hills and moors which border this area.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is.

A walk which may start off with a friend, then taking a different path which sets you onward alone in your human company.  But not really, as the animal alongside looks up silently,  reminding you of his presence.

Always there

As we continue onwards, we pass special places where you can pause and remember.

To remember

Which we do so, but only after the steep climb of Little Roseberry, the equally splendid and not so little brother, to the iconic Roseberry Topping to where it sits adjacent.  We take time to reflect and listen to wise words written.

‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’

Here we are on top of the world.  And I can never tire of this.  This view.   Barely a soul in sight.

On top of the world

A rural expanse, which goes on for miles, where blustering winds take your breath away, along with those rugged vistas.  Those gusts of high swirling winds, forcing open your lungs with blasts of continuous positive airway pressure, deeply reaching those tiny air sac terminals, inflating them like balloons.  And you sigh.  And feel tremendous with lungs alive and wide.

Walking these well trodden paths, which dip in and out of the magnificent Cleveland Way, clears my soul for sure.   Exposure to the elements on top of these moors, makes me love them all the more.  As individuals we become very small here.   I look one way and as far as the eye can see, the landscape is defined by sprawling heather, cotton grasses and the rarest of tree appearances, over gentle curves which disappear into hidden valleys.   I look the other and Teesside’s towns and industry remind you civilisation is very near, and home is but an hours walk away.

Altogether

Here I have the best of both worlds, and escape is never too far from either.  Whatever the season…..

Winter wildness

this place will always hold its own, in steadfast grit, quietly exuding its extreme beauty.

Roseberry Topping from Little Roseberry

What is more, I love it!

Adventure of a Lifetime

Looking for milestones?  I am sure we could find one everyday if we thought hard enough. However, for me there are two in particular that have taken place today.  Firstly, our eldest son Ewan started secondary school.  For the remaining days of his summer break, we have been preparing for those steps into independence.  Yes, the steps I am sure many mothers and fathers will dread, and yet know, that these are rites of passage that every child needs to take.  Catching a bus.  Going swimming.  Walking into town.  Going to shops.  Paying for goods.  Crossing roads.  Talking to people…..the list goes on!  All this on their own, or if lucky with the odd friend or two, who are equally finding their way in the world.

What does this bring for parents or guardians?  Sleepless nights.  The thought processes.  The thinking ahead.  The million and one possible outcomes of these seemingly simple scenarios.  In short let’s face it ‘Worry’, with a big fat ‘W’!  As guardians of these precious souls, we are excellent at thinking about ‘what might happen?‘  Believe it or not, we are highly trained navy seals in this very activity.  I suppose it is inevitable, seeing as for 11 solid years we have ‘thought‘ for them and ‘done‘ everything.  Been one step ahead as it were.  Now though, almost taking us by surprise, these small individuals (because they still are!) begin tackling these situations – with gusto!

Embarking on an adventure of a lifetime, they will make their own choices, now becoming decision makers and standing on their own two feet.  During these small preparations for Ewan’s first steps into autonomy, it has made me think back to when I was his age.  And I remember loving it!  The excitement, the wonder and that feeling of complete freedom, allowing us to go anywhere.  That journey, taking us into teenage years, then young adulthood, where confidence swells and the world really does feel like your oyster.

This young boy of mine, it turns out is just like me (I guess the apple never falls far from the tree).

For big kids too!

He reminds me of ‘me‘.  The ‘me’ which was so thrilled by experiencing the world, and the girl who had quiet passions and ambition.  I think for a long while , especially since giving up work to look after my children, I have been guilty of slipping into a world of safety.  I believe that has happened subconsciously because we want to create a safe universe for them.  Alongside safety, has sat confidence, which in my case has decidedly taken a back seat.

And so they say our children teach us, which is the truest of true.  Here is my child reminding me that it is OK to take chances, to go on adventures, to ‘have a go’.  Thank you my boy, for you have awoken ‘me‘ again and a sparkle has been ignited inside , that I feel is here to stay.  That tingling, which you feel deep within your tummy, wriggling to get out and explore.

But adding to this, it is the second milestone which has taken place today which really compounds this feeling.  You see my father turned 80 years old.

And you really don’t look it Dad!

Mum and Dad…..an inspiring pair!

He too is a man who takes on adventure all the time, walking out independently and taking on those high peaks in the Black Mountains of South Wales.  Feeling free, taking paths of his choosing, confident in his independent solitude…..regardless of age.

So from the young boy to his grandfather, their resolute self determination, is there to not only be admired, but to encourage us all to go find our own adventures wherever they may be.  I believe if we all took a look at the people around us, we can all be inspired to do the same.  Adventure is out there! Now who’s going to hold my hand?

 

Misty Eyed Moments

Summer holidays, or holidays at any time of year for that matter, will always revolve around connections with our family who live far and wide.  In our case that family resides from one end of Britain to the other.  On a day to day, week to week and month to month level, our small family unit (that is me, my husband Colin, our two boys, a dog and cat!), will not see cousins, sisters, brothers, parents or grandparents.  We all live just too far apart for that you see.

So that is why it is important for us to make these special journeys.  Indeed they are extra special.  I actually think our little boys are very lucky indeed.  With their grandmother in Edinburgh and their other grandparents in Cardiff, how fortunate to be able to experience the rich cultures of two beautiful regions.

This time round has been particularly poignant for Colin and I.  I have such fond memories of my own childhood holidays (always sunny of course!)  I remember vividly trips to the beach at Wiseman’s Bridge, Pembrokeshire.  Here I would spend entire days fixated by rockpools, coaxing illusive Blennies from their dark homes deep within the crevices of barnacled rocks.

Wiseman Bridge rockpooling

Me looking for Blennies circa 1980

Then there was swimming in freshwater pools under waterfalls at Blaen-y-Glyn in the mountains near Talybont reservoir,  tucked away in the Brecon Beacons most hidden places.

Blaen-y-Glyn

1970’s wild swimming!

Of course there are also those memories of a more palatable nature….

….like fried tomatoes on toast!

My Dad’s supper speciality…yummy

However, this time our Welsh trip down memory lane, took us to another special place.  A visit to Kenfig Nature Reserve, near Bridgend.  It was a regular day out for us as kids, and now here I was 30 or so years later.  Pulling up into the car park, its quiet beauty brought memories trickling back (I say trickling as it really has been a long time!)  Starting our walk we passed bird hides which nestle alongside the freshwater of Kenfig pool.  You are truly spoilt for choice by the abundance of flora and fauna of the place.  The real adventure though was and always has been the 1 mile walk (you heard me!) across sand dunes, eventually leading to the real jewel that is Sker Beach.

And it was just as I remembered…..

The walk is worth it

….isolated perfection!

Just us and a fisherman!

…..and they all loved it!

Having a splash

Warm Welsh Water!

Then it was time to head North, to Scotland’s fair capital for quality Gran time.  Colin’s turn now, where he was able to share equally fond memories of his childhood trips to North Berwick and the cluster of incredible beaches which dot this coastline.  For him, Yellowcraig Beach was calling…..

My word!  Oh how it took my breath away!

Almost tropical

Here too, mere handfuls of people,  allowing you space and time…..

to reflect…..

Taking it all in

enjoy…..

Beach capers

and even capture a rare picture of this pair!

Mr and Mrs

Throughout it all, this lad was smiling again.

Am loving this!

And so our eyes go misty as we remember favourite places, people, experiences of our past.  Long live the simple pleasures I say!  I do believe they create the best memories.  What is more, those simple pleasures are often there on our own doorsteps, right under our own noses.  What are yours?  I bet there’s some crackers and I’d love to hear.

Deary me, feeling terribly, terribly woolly again!