Monday, 8 October 2012


We made it, we climbed the highest mountain in England. I know for some people this is a mere stroll but for us it was an adventure, one the boys will treasure and remember.

It has taken me until October to write this blog about our adventure in July, because I was unsure which story to tell. The one of thrill and excitement, achieving our goal? Or the one of the horrendously difficult time I had? I want to write both, but they seem to contradict. How can I say I had an amazing time, when it was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time?

I am reminded of something my eldest son said when were discussing getting a dog, "Mum it might be a lot of work, but it will be a lot of love!"...Still now those words resonate inside me.

So here are my two stories of our adventure, side by side yet apart:

Version one:

Jack FM blaring out, we journeyed up the motorway, excited and not sure what our next few days would be like. Gradually the gentle rolling hills of the south, rose up, then towered around us as we entered the Lake District. The boys constantly asking me, how high is Scarfell Pike, compared to that mountain over there? Or that one? My nonchalant replies waved off many mountains as mere nothing compared to the where we were going.

We turned into our campsite, delighted at the small rustic stone village that it nestled in; surrounded by grand mountains.

We picked a quiet spot, which looked dog friendly and put up our tent, and started to discuss our plans for the next day.

I rose at dawn the next day, awoken by bird song and all the unfamiliar sounds of camping. My doggy and I enjoyed the fresh smell of the grass as I sat and sipped my freshly brewed tea. Today was the day for our long and carefully planned hike. We packed up sandwiches and racksacks, with snacks and drinks, then headed to the cosy wooden beamed cafe on the campsite that served full English Breakfasts.

I am a bit of a coward driving when it comes to roads that drop off to one side steeply into dramatic valley's. So when the sons excitedly pointed out the views on route to Scarfell, I squealed and stated that I had to concentrate on the road!

Finally we started up our climb, it was easy to navigate as we could follow the other mountain enthusiasts. Our dog thoroughly enjoyed romping up and down the path, making it look easy, he did the odd bit of sheep watching, but these mountain sheep are smart, spot a sheep dog a mile away and scarper. The boys were delighted as we entered cloud height as they claimed they had never walked inside a cloud before.

As we neared the summit the wind was very strong and the fog dense, we did the English thing and put our best foot forward, whilst wearing our winter woollies in mid summer. Our path was marked with cairns, but the dog walking 10ft ahead could smell the way by tracking the previous adventurers, he led us to the top.

We grinned and felt exhilarated at achieving the summit. We sat down on top of a huge cairn, supping our water bottles and nibbling Kendal mint cake. We giggling at the dog when he nearly got knocked off his feet by a huge gust of wind and my hat tried to fly away. Then we clinged tightly to the trig point and took the obligatory summit photos. We bounced back down, feeling a sense of achievement and pity for people we passed that were still heading up.

The rest of the holiday, we climbed another small mountain, drove motor boats, went 'Go Ape' and took a trip on a lake cruiser. Fun, fun, fun!

Version two:

After months of planning and tripping over camping gear, I struggled out of bed with a days hard labour ahead of me and a night of diarrhoea behind me. Downed some breakfast, have to eat will need the energy, rushed to the toliet again, then off the lump camping gear out to the car. Off we go, I realised as we headed out, I might need to stop regularly and quickly on the motorway. So at the first service station I purchased some Imodium. The journey was uneventful, until we hit the 3 hour traffic jam on the M6, this may have been the inspiration for eldest sons descriptive writing in my last blog. So our 5 hour journey became an eight hour journey.

When we arrived I dragged myself slowly out of the drivers seat to go register at the campsite office, I staggered in and handed over my paperwork relieved to be there.

The campsite was wooded and we choose a corner where the dog wouldn't be a nuisance, unfortunately this was the furtherest possible spot from the wash block. We soon discovered that if you stake a Border Collie on a long lead, they will attempt tent sabotage, he proceeded to walk around and around all the tarp poles and camp chairs, then in one 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em' style moment tried to run after a ball and send us and the tarp flying.

Our first night was horrendous, drunken weekend campers decided to have a party until 4am, every time I woke still needing to rush to the toilet, the loud laughing would magically quieter down, then as I snuggled back in my sleeping bag they would start shouting again.....Arghhhhhhh! I wanted to go remove their tent pegs in the dark and throw them in to the cow field next to us.

I awoke at 5.30am by doggy trying to escape out of big sons sleeping compartment, so I gave up on the idea of sleeping at that point! Big son woke with a bout of diarrhoea, so over breakfast we crushed up an Imodium tablet and sprinkled it on our toast. Praying that we could manage today's climb.

It was an hour and half drive to the base of the mountain. We decided to walk it gently and slowly, pace ourselves! It took us about seven and half hours to climb it, as we were obviously not on top form.

After the hour and half drive back to the campsite, we arrived to find our tent slightly worse for wear from the strong winds and rain, the cover on the top at blown off so rain could get in, and the tarp was flapping, with poles every where again! So first job was to fix the tent. We then grabbed a very quick expedition food dinner and collapsed in to our sleeping had been a very long far.... I kept being woken by our tarp bashing the side of our tent as the strong wind and rain whipped around us, after a few hours being annoyed by it, I gave up and got up to take the tarp down and pack it away.....snuggled back down....

....I was woken at 11pm, by little son calling "Mum, mum I feel sick." So in the pitch black I struggled out of my sleeping bag and tent to go check on him. He was getting frantic, I had the 'mothers knowing' and called for him to scramble quickly out of his tent incase he was sick.... he didn't ...and yes he did over everything in his tent! I couldn't see the damage clearly in the pitch black. So I fetched my lantern and assessed the situation. One puke covered kid, sleeping bag, clothes, favourite teddy, floor of tent... I had no spare sleeping bag, so I grabbed one of our survival bags we carry up the mountains, cleaned off the son and put him in the bag. Planning to attempt a cleanup proper in daylight....this is the point when I phoned Hubby in tears, I want to come home, I can't take it!

It all seemed slightly better in the morning, I managed to cook us bacon for breakfast on my tiny camp stove, and I discovered that the campsite had a superb washing machine and tumble dryer, plus shop to buy cleaning equipment. So whilst favourite teddy went round and round the big glass fronted washing machine, the boys played pool and I scrubbed sick up.

Here's the weird bit... We had a great time!

Clinging on to the trig point on Scarfell Pike

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Exam nerves...

 Preexam nerves are hitting. No I am not doing any exams, but my eldest son is doing his first iGCSE, as a mock to practice for next summer.

Are mothers allowed to be nervous? It seems crazy, I guess all the memories from the exams of my youth are being recalled. Is it that as a home educator I can't just ignore it and relax knowing the school has it all in hand?

 All the physical details are booked and planned: exam paid for, triple checked he is booked for the right papers, arranged to stay with my Aunty and Uncle who live near the exam centre and little son is booked to have major fun with various relatives for a few days.....oops forgot about the dog! Being a Mum is complicated.

 I felt like blogging today, I was inspired by big son. He did a practice exam paper today. For two hours little son, the dog and myself whispered and crept about the house; try doing an Australian accent, followed by a Hong Kong accent, whilst whispering, with a dog sat on your lap with his head shoved under your chin, one arm around little son and a book in the only free hand...not easy, I told you being a Mum is complicated! When I got in a bit of a muddle and my accent turned in to a cockney one, then Little son had a credible attempt at the whispered Australian accent.

My inspiration came from two angles, the descriptive writing my son did as part of his paper which reminded me that I do enjoy a bit of descriptive writing. Then when big sons English tutor commented on my incredible lack of skill at grammar (noted from Facebook). I felt inspired to have a go at improving it, by using it.

Here is big sons descriptive exam writing from today, he says, it's bad mum, its bad mum, but I think he might have a little of the exam nerves too.

The Traffic Jam by 'Big Son' aged 14
Polluted grey sky rules our mood today, emotionless flocks of birds on a mission to seek a better place, flying in perfect formation; only blacking out the sky more.

Far off grey mist looked as if it was the scouting party for the sky, who slowly scrutinised our movements and plans to attack us with its forces of rain, lighting and thunder. Sitting on the motorway only gave me joy in the fact that a huge narrow lorry looked ominously over my car covering me with a shadow casted by the invisible sun; what is good about this is it blocks my curious view from seeing how far the traffic jam went.

I opened my window to hear what I didn’t expect: bleak silence. I got panicky for a small moment as I thought I was deaf, but I heard my engine which seemed to be vague as if it was a mile away. Then I heard a sudden crash of metal as the queue moved forward then I heard a car alarm as I thought someone had been hit. A burly bald man built like a bear opened his door and ran to the car behind him and shouted some abuse at the driver.  It was obvious that bear man’s car had been hit; he was now holding up the entire lane to my left. As I smelled mind altering fumes it seemed I was drifting away in to a state of mindlessness. In my half dazed state I almost didn’t notice the traffic as it rumbled in to twenty mile an hour life.  I travelled down the road and went past the cause of the jam, a car had flipped over on top of a caravan. Shards of glass and metal were scattered around inside the orange radiating barriers. The shards were so ominous I become quite disturbed. I pulled off at the next junction, relieved to be away from the mayhem.
Ok I know his grammar is better than mine, I am feeling a little paranoid! I think I will stick to maths.