Post-lockdown but still viral; Loweswater

So often whatever I’m reading will seem to reflect thoughts of my own, or will put into words something I haven’t yet formulated myself.

I’ve been reading a lot of Alexander McCall Smith recently. Having gone through the ‘Bertie’/44 Scotland Street series, I’ve now read most of the Isabel Dalhousie series. They’re well written but an easy and enjoyable read, with references to art, philosophy, music and poetry – specifically WH Auden. The author really seems to be able to get under the skin of his characters, and the books are full of comments that strike a chord. It’s only with some restraint that I haven’t quoted widely from them previously!

However some comments particularly reverberated recently as I’ve been through a slightly introspective phase, worrying that I was upsetting people or that they didn’t like me. Whilst I’m rarely lonely, there are times when I’d like to meet up with someone or with a group of people, but I feel as if people forget that I spend a huge amount of time on my own: after all, it seems that most people in relationships are only too happy to have some time to themselves and envy me my solo time, but of course when they get time to themselves, or time to enjoy something with friends, they generally have someone to go home to talk to about their day, or to share thoughts with. So I felt that these two particular quotes were especially relevant to the strange times in which we find ourselves:

remember what you have and what other people don’t have

ordinary exchanges… the natural cement of any group… we need[ed] it… because we were lonely without such exchanges“.

So recently I’ve rather felt the lack of choir, the running group and chatting to people across the desk or in the kitchen at work. But I’m fortunate in that I have still been able to go running with Penny – and Anne is now starting to join us from time to time as well, as she needs to get some off-road training in for Coniston 10km this October – and that last Saturday the weather was unexpectedly good enough to go open water swimming.

Three of us headed towards Crummock Water. Having just turned off the road which goes to Loweswater, a car coming in the opposite direction stopped us and said there had been a crash up ahead and the road was blocked. We decided to turn round and try out Loweswater instead.

This relatively small lake has had significant problems in terms of water quality over recent years, and has been one of the West Cumbria Rivers Trust’s priorities for improvement, with the Environment Agency monitoring water quality regularly. However Jo had been given a book for her birthday which recommended it: “come on in, the water’s lovely“, so having initially suggested we remove it from our list of lakes, it had been left on.

The writer of the book (Suzanna Cruickshank) was quite right: not only did we find a parking space near to the lake and close to a small beach area, but the water was lovely: and also relatively warm as the lake is quite shallow. We swam out to the EA’s pontoon and back, and then took our wetsuits off and carried on in the water, swimming and chatting. We were in the water for about an hour in total, and then sat on the beach eating cake and shortbread (I had made a cherry bakewell cake – a recipe I hadn’t used since David’s 39th birthday, a few months before he left 6 years ago).

We were so enthusiastic about Loweswater that it was clear it was going to score quite highly on our score card, and indeed it’s up there with Wastwater, Bowscale tarn and Harrop tarn. All of the lake district lakes and tarns are beautiful and we are so lucky to live so near them – but some are definitely more beautiful than others!

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