The last week has not been about nursing or university at all, as it was officially a designated holiday week. Time away from the normal every day routine is essentially good for the mind, body and soul. Without rest, relaxation and leisure time, plus an occasional complete change of scenery, our brains and bodies can become tired and stressed from the effects of everyday life.
For the last 7 days therefore, I have been in North Cumbria and the Northern Lake District, with my partner and two of our dogs, staying in a beautiful converted barn, near the market town of Wigton. Situated on a working farm, the cottage was an ideal holiday base, and was extremely comfortable and well-appointed inside. Upon arriving, there was even a lovely welcome basket of homemade cake and biscuits, eggs from the farm, jam & marmalade and wine; plus milk, butter and orange juice in the fridge, and bread, cereal, tea, coffee and sugar in the cupboard. I have never been to a holiday cottage before, where the owner has left some basic provisions, plus much more extras besides. It was therefore a wonderful surprise, and saved us having to rush out to find a shop, in order to get some basic essentials.
The Lake District is a place that I really love spending time in, and I am also fairly familiar with it. Many years ago I did my teacher training in the old St. Martin’s College in Ambleside (now part of the University of Cumbria), which was then an associate of Lancaster University. Ambleside is a beautiful Lakeland village at the edge of Lake Windermere, with an abundance of traditional slate cottages, amidst a green valley backdrop of mountains, often with low cloud covering, and cascading crystal-clear waterfalls meandering down the hillsides. In the past I have often taken a boat from Ambleside to Bowness-upon-Windermere; spent some time at the latter, before catching a boat back to Ambleside. The next lake along the road is Rydal Water, and then Grasmere Lake and village. This area is lovely for leisurely walking, and two homes of the poet, William Wordsworth, can be viewed along the way – namely, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount.
I have also enjoyed spending time on the other side of Windermere in Hawkshead village, and then on to the Grizedale forest. The quieter Lake Coniston and the Old Man O’ Coniston are also worth a visit, as is the Ravenglass steam railway and the tiny pretty village of Boot.
My favourite lake, visually, is the wild and isolated Wast Water, with its dramatically steep scree slopes. I love to approach it from the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes, which are stunning, challenging and untamed, in equal measures. While my favourite lake, for walking around, is Ennerdale, with its varied surround of forest, open path, green fields and rocky outcrop.
This past week’s holiday was focused on a less familiar part of the county and was a very different but enjoyable experience. We revisited some old favourites of the Northern Lakes, including Derwent Water at Keswick, the Borrowdale Valley, including a glorious walk along the river from Grange to Rosthwaite village, and the nearby Bassenthwaite Lake.
We also revisited Ullswater Lake and the villages of Glenridding and Patterdale. The journey’s approach was newly found territory through the sheep festooned fells and single track winding up and down roads of Mungrisdale; absolutely magnificent. Newly found coastal discoveries, this time, included Allonby and Silloth. The former had a fabulous stretch of five miles of sandy beach, while the latter had a charming seafront park, a promenade and direct access to miles of coastal path. Both places had excellent views across the Solway Firth to nearby Scotland – the Dumfries and Galloway area.
Another charming find was the village of Caldbeck, complete with duck pond, ancient watermill, riverside and church. We found a really enjoyable walk which mainly followed the course of the river, across a few fields and some intermittent woodland. The destination was another charming village called Newmarket Hesket, which apparently is a favourite of Prince Charles when he visits the county.
To make the holiday even better, we have had hot dry weather every single day. Accompanied by sun cream, hay fever tablets, daily picnics and ice-creams, it was absolute perfection. Our two dogs had a marvellous time too; what with lakes to paddle in, footpaths to follow and beaches to run along; they are tired, happy and satiated. For a good balance of physical and mental health, for humans and canines alike, a week in Cumbria was wonderfully recuperative.
On the way home I treated myself to a visit to the village of Sedbergh, an old favourite of mine, which is on the borders of Cumbria and the West Yorkshire Dales. Sedbergh is one of England’s book towns, and I love ambling around the various book shops and finding some hidden literary treasures. My enjoyment was great as I lost track of time, only for it to be broken by the sound of one of the dogs impatiently barking by the door, accompanied by my partner – no pressure!
With one further week of holiday away from university, it is now back to some preparatory nursing studies and recommended reading, and I am also going to take my turn in curating the university nursing Twitter account. Last week also, I found out that I had passed both of my optional modules (End of Life/Palliative Care and Supporting families & carers) with really respectable marks. These basically equate to 40 credits towards my degree, and one third of Year Two passed.