Thursday, 16 August 2012


Malcolm has just ordered a mountain bike and lycra from Amazon. Looks like we're definitely staying!

An agricultural show

Charlotte's Web is my only point of reference for an agricultural show. I didn't realise they still take place. And with such sincerity!

Our village is blessed with an annual stonker of a show. It's beautifully sited on windswept fields, with views across to Pendle Hill (which reminds me - I haven't even mentioned the anniversary of the witch trials...) and it's a hive of farmyard activity mixed with bouncy castles and the odd community tent.

You've probably been there done that, but indulge me for a moment as I expose my ignorance and take you into the poultry marquee.

The sides are stacked high with prize-winning birds. Look for the red rosettes and you can see who's won 1st prize. Then look closer in a vain attempt to determine why. "Superb crest," I find myself saying. "Luxurious feathers..."

More challenging is the table of egg specimens. Plates of blue eggs, grey eggs, dark brown, light brown... alongside plates of cracked open eggs! Here my powers of discernment fail me.

I'm strangely relieved the next day when a friend mentions that her dad once won with eggs bought from Asda. (Shhhh, don't tell the judges.)

Olympic bubble

We've arranged a house swap for a week over the Olympics! A Lancashire farm for a Hackney terrace. Magic. 

We're the only people we know who actually got Olympic tickets first time round, then we carelessly move away from London and rent out our house. Doh.

Fortunately, some friends agree to guinea pig sit and brave the boggy moors while we borrow their scooters and indulge in a bit of park and pavement life.

It's awesome. From the pink volunteers' welcome at Kings Cross station, through the smartened up and relatively empty London streets, to a vibrant Olympic Park and a treasure trove of medals.

Not a good time to consolidate plans to stay up north.

Then again, returning to blissful sunshine, Agricultural Shows, riverside capers, biking with Bradley Wiggins... we're definitely seeing the best of both worlds.

The Olympic bubble will burst and the Lancashire rain will return. And us? Well we've decided to take the path less travelled by, at least for a little bit longer.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Wine tasting and cattle grids

We haven't been on many nights out since our move. And they've all ended in a drive back home with at least one of us sober.

So I positively leap at an invitation to a wine tasting with some mums from school. Only nearer the event do I consider the logistics. Quick google: the last bus for the pretty village with the wine bar leaves at 15:10. I briefly consider cycling then reluctantly conclude that I'll be needing a taxi.

Sensing my dire need for a girls' night out, my husband kindly offers to drop me off. (This means the kids have to come along for the ride. They look very bemused at mummy dressing up for once. "You can't go like that!" Rosa caringly advises, when I'm still wearing combat trousers with five minutes to go.)

The wine tasting is extremely tasty, without a spittoon in sight.

We share a taxi home and, funnily enough, I'm the last person to be dropped off. The taxi reaches the top end of the village and I don't dare ask the driver to navigate our long, pot-holed lane. Instead I walk through the semi-darkness, aware of sheep looming on either side and the wind off the moors. Its a far cry from shifty shadows and 24/7 traffic on London streets.

I can't remember crossing a cattle grid tipsy before. Suddenly the thought of crossing two fills me with pure joy. I skip up the farm track, a ridiculous grin on my face, grateful that I didn't choose heels and safe in the knowledge that the sheep won't tell.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


There's a hedgehog in the road on the way to school today. I don't think I've ever seen a real live hedgehog before. Joe certainly hasn't. We stop the car and walk over to it. I ignorantly expect it to run away but instead it slowly tightens into a ball.

There's probably a whole prickle of hedgehogs in London, but seeing one up close in the countryside gets me thinking about our impending dilemma: should we stay or should we return?

Our year is nearly up. We've thrown ourselves into it, established an enjoyable rural life, experienced the other extreme and seen up close its pros and cons. Now my husband's project and our excuse for being here is coming to an end. So do we find other excuses to stay?

I feel like that hedgehog. Faced with uncertainty, I'd like to just curl up in a ball and see what happens. Think we'd better move one way or the other though, before the next car comes round the corner.

(In case you're worried, I gently moved the hedgehog to the side of the road with my foot. It wasn't there on our return journey.)  

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Coming to a canal near you

I miss having my parents nearby.

It's not that they were nearby when we lived in London, but then none of my friends had family nearby so we all just mucked in together. Here, everyone seems to have relatives down the road, including ourselves.

But they're not my parents.

That's why the last two weeks - when Mum and Dad chugged up North on their narrow boat and moored in various beauty spots along the Leeds-Liverpool canal - have been such bliss.

We've popped in for morning coffee or tea and cake after school. We've had day trips through tunnels and locks and swing bridges. We've explored the cotton wharfs in Burnley and the tea rooms at Gargrave. Rosa's stayed the night, on best behaviour, and Joe's had regularly doses of terrorising the dog and playing chess on Mum's iPad.

We've waved them off now, on their long trip back South. Of course, it's infinitely quicker by car, even with the caravan in tow, but it's not got the same novelty value. I think everyone should have grandparents nearby on a narrow boat.

Euros, please

What to do on a dry afternoon in half-term before a cheeky long weekend in France? Walk into the village to collect some holiday reading and some Euros, of course.

The fifteen-minute amble takes more like half an hour when there are sheep pooing (which still fascinates the kids), bunnies hopping out of the way and 4x4s roaring past.

Only 10 minutes before the library shuts and we're stopped by Rosa's Rainbows leader. She wants to show us her newly-hatched chicks. A fluffy cuddle later and we just manage to get our books out. (The library's only open two afternoons a week but within that time there's a half hour tea break, naturally...)

Then we cross the road to collect our Euros. Hooray for village post offices that have avoided the cull. Loaded with blue notes, we trek back up the lane and through the fields. Sheep still pooing, cattle grids always a good challenge, stiles and gates our alternative climbing frames and 'St Tropez tomorrow, darling' the least likely thing in the world.