About five and a half or six years ago, not long before David left, one of his friends said to me that from reading my blog you’d think I was happy whereas when you met me I was a miserable git (those weren’t his exact words, but close enough).
I’ve looked back at blogposts from around that time and in fact I wasn’t always that happy, but expressed that at times I felt low. But I also know that I have always found some solace in being out and about on my bike or running; with friends; in music. But when your heart feels completely and utterly broken and life seems black even these things are not a consolation.
I think it says something about my general state of mind, therefore, that despite having been desperately upset about the children last week, it didn’t take me long to bounce back and to have a brilliant weekend. Having reacted incredibly emotionally to something on Wednesday evening, by the time I’d had a huge amount of moral support from friends I felt calmer though still tearful on Thursday. The weekend – which, as I don’t have to go to Newcastle to work on Friday, starts for me on Thursday evening quite often – got better and better from there on in.
I went for a bike ride on Friday morning with one of the Claires (I have several friends called Clare or Claire). Her two children are the same age as two of mine, and we’ve been talking about going cycling together for ages. I got side-tracked doing something at home so she cycled to mine, I cycled back with her to her house and had a drink, flapjack and a chat, and I then cycled home again. I hadn’t cycled all of the route before so it was good to try something new, and I saw exactly what she meant as I cycled home – the view as you cycle away from Heads Nook (her village) with the Pennine Fells ahead of you is a lovely one.
Friday evening I very nearly backed out of going to a concert with two friends, Anne and Mark, but was really glad I did go. It would have been so easy to have said “I really don’t feel like it and I need some quiet time and to do my ironing”. We went down to Salkeld Dykes to see Kinfolk in concert in a barn which has been newly converted by Michael Sanderson and Katharine May to a music room, big enough to put on small concerts. Michael plays and sings with Kinfolk as well as being a classical musician – he and his wife Katharine are also Eden Music/Eden Baroque. Kinfolk was performing at Music on the Marr the following night, so it felt quite a privilege to be able to see them in this smaller and more intimate setting – and it was great to be able to chat to them later. I’m never sure whether I’m going to like a whole evening of ‘folk’ music but this was fantastic – I was tapping my foot and smiling for almost the entire evening.
The following afternoon I was singing at Lanercost Priory, with James Booth on guitar, as part of the celebrations for the Priory’s 850th anniversary. I was relieved that I sang far better than I had for the choir concerts back in May (back then being affected partly by nerves and partly as I was going down with a cold) and I’m really looking forward to singing some more with Jim on guitar. Mark and Anne had said the previous evening that they were going to Lanercost on the Saturday evening to see Jerry King’s ukelele band. By now I was on a roll… not at all sure what I’d think of an hour of ukelele music, I agreed to go and again had a brilliant time.
On the Sunday I had arranged to meet up with my sister as she was staying with a friend of hers in Cockermouth. We went to Crummock Water and swam, paddle boarded and kayaked. Not only do I now want a bass guitar for christmas (as a result of seeing Kinfolk) but also I now want an inflatable kayak. The water was beautifully clear – until you got into the deeper part of the lake you could see the rocks beneath you quite easily: completely unlike Keswick the weekend before, which had been muddy, weedy, opaque and disgusting!
Having had a good time splashing about in the lake, followed by a picnic lunch provided by Rachel’s friend Sara, I headed over the Newlands Pass and valley to meet Penny. We drove down to Grange and ran along by the river Derwent (very shallow at the moment due to lack of rain, but very pretty) through Rosthwaite to Seatoller, before turning to go uphill and head in a northerly direction back to Grange. It was about 7 miles in total and we were not particularly quick! However there were some great things along the way such as the metal chain pinned into the rocks just past the YHA at Seatoller – the rocks must be really slippery when it’s wet weather – and Castle Crag, which is stunning. The view of Castle Crag from a distance and at stream level I felt was an almost alpine one – but then I’ve often thought that about Keswick, and also sometimes about Penrith, when I’ve seen them in the snow with the fells behind them. This time was more the summer mountain pastures aspect and I guess if climate change continues the way it is so far then actually that won’t be so inaccurate.
I stopped off at Rheged on the way home to buy some dinner for myself (even the food in the petrol station at Rheged is of a quality you don’t normally find in such places – including some beautiful French-style patisserie, though I didn’t buy any of those on this day). I sang to myself up the motorway and thought how lucky I was. I had had a weekend which had included friends (and my sister, who it was great to see), music, running, swimming, cycling and the beautiful outdoors.
What could be better (other than perhaps my kids having come along too, and enjoyed themselves)?