We are currently enjoying a spell of mostly warm, sunny, weather reminiscent of Lockdown One this time last year. Some of my friends were brave enough to go open water swimming last weekend; I plucked up the courage this weekend (with moral support).
Now that we are allowed out in groups of 6 and that most of my peers have had their first vaccine at least, people have got more relaxed about meeting up – outside – and it’s been great to see more of my friends once again. I have various whatsapp groups and some people belong to most or all of them. The chats have been great, but meeting up face to face is definitely best!
I met Clare at Chesters Roman Fort on Friday (my non-working day) and we wandered around the ruins and down by the river Tyne. Most Roman Fort sites, even if they all seem much the same, actually have something unique about their particular ruins. At Chesters it’s because it was a cavalry fort and you can see the barracks where the men slept with their horses; there are remains of the large parade ground; and remains of the bath house by the river.
It was lovely to be able to wander around the site and then to sit outside the cafe with a coffee and a sandwich.
On Saturday I met a volunteer for some of the Hadrian’s Wall sites. As everybody knows everybody around here, it was no surprise to have found out that we vaguely knew each other; but it was good to walk from Poltross Burn to Birdoswald and chat about all and sundry. She knows far more about the wall than I do and will be a superb volunteer; I then ran from Birdoswald via Gilsland along the wall trail to Walltown, and then back to Gilsland where I had left the car. I haven’t run that part of the wall route for several years, and it was lovely to retrace footsteps – this time on quite dry ground, whereas my memories of doing it before are of plenty of water-logged, sodden ground and of trying to stay on the higher parts of the path rather than in the bottom of what I think is the ‘vallum’ (the ditch the Romans built alongside the wall). I had in fact intended to attempt to run a half marathon but I’d misread the map and it was very warm so when I got to Walltown I ran round the labyrinth in the nature reserve there, and then turned back to Gilsland. It’s not a fast run – you cross the railway twice and there are lots of gates and stiles which slow you up, plus there were plenty of sheep being very protective of their lambs.
Today’s forecast was for cloud but we’ve had blue skies and sun all day. A group of us walked to Broomlee Lough for a swim, somewhere I’ve written about in this blog before and where I’ve just been waiting for the right time to swim. Today was the day, and it was glorious – the walk is pleasant without being too demanding, and takes in plenty of Hadrian’s Wall sites (depending which route you choose); the ground was mostly dry to get there; and then the lough itself………. there was a stony entry, but not for very far, and then a sandy bottom; we picnicked under a crag which was sheltered and sunny; and whilst it’s early in the year so the water was cold, it wasn’t unbearable. We were the only people there, so it felt like our own private lake.
Finally, in contrast to all the joy of the weekend, I played – on my new phone – a recording of me singing Dowland’s Flow My Tears, accompanied by talented guitarist Jim Booth. It was recorded at Bewcastle church when we were practicing for a series of concerts. Previously I’ve always found listening to myself uncomfortable and I definitely have not liked the sound of my own voice; listening to it again recently I feel fairly pleased with it – though of course listening to it more times I then pick up all sorts of faults, as is of course the trouble with listening to yourself sing. Unfortunately having tried to upload it here or to YouTube it’s the wrong file format, apparently, and I can’t. But in this year that I turn 60, I’d like to get my voice recorded a few more times as well as doing my ARSM: if I’m not too dissatisfied with the results I’m hoping to be able to turn them into a short film. Watch this space!