Double Digits

At 9:49 on 24 August 2009 we welcomed our little girl into the world. Ten years later we are waking up on Megan’s birthday to an incredibly beautiful sunrise over Haweswater and the surrounding fells.

Sunrise at Haweswater

The good thing about 10 year olds, is they don’t wake up as early as new born babies so we had time to arrange a rather impressive stash of presents.

A birthday stash in the campervan

However…. the (only) downside of being in a campervan is that nothing you do is private, so it wasn’t long before two heads appeared from the pop top and the unwrapping began.

More presents!!
Even more presents!!

As a bookworm, there were numerous books to unwrap as well as LOL dolls, a ‘Let’s go Eevee’ game for her Nintendo Switch, a new Harry Potter board game and lots of cards – most of which seemed to contain money!!!

Megan, you have brought us more joy in the past ten years than you could imagine. Your love of life and empathy with others are just two of your most endearing qualities. You are beautiful inside and out and have such an amazingly creative imagination. The next 10 years will see you transform from a child into an adult, start (and finish) secondary school, learn to drive, fall in (and probably out) of love, and quite probably leave home (at least temporarily).

Hodding Carter once reported that good parents give their children both roots and wings. We are extremely proud of how grounded you already are and we look forward to watching you fly in the years to come..

Happy 10th birthday Megs xxxx

Our kind of High Street

Most folks think of the High Street as an avenue of shops – a feast for your eyes (and wallet). But for us, this High Street offers much more tempting views and priceless experiences.


The last time Lay and I ventured up High Street I was heavily pregnant with Megan and so it was fitting that we tackle it again just before her tenth birthday. Previously we ascended this peak from Hartsop in the west but this time, inspired by Julia Bradbury’s Wainwright walks, we decided to attempt it from Haweswater in the east.

Mardale Head footbridge

We were lucky to grab one of the last parking spots at the Mardale Head and sheltered from the wind in our campervan for a spot of lunch before venturing out. Our ascent, ‘the connoisseur’s route’ according to AW, takes the ridge of Rough Crag and Long Stile.

William route finding on Rough Crag

The ridge gave us some good scrambling opportunities, whilst being careful not to venture too close to the steep sides.

Walking into the cloud base

As we continued to ascend we had the rare sight of seeing two tarns from the same spot – Blea Water and Small Water. It wasn’t long after this that we became engulfed by the cloud – probably no bad thing given the number of false summits on this route!!!

Scrambling up Long Stile
Head into the wind as we gain the ridge

From the ridge we emerged onto the rounded summit plateau of High Street and headed into the wind until we reached the trig point which stands at 828m.

Clouds blotting out the sun on the summit
Haweswater and Blea Water from High Street

Whilst enjoying the easy walking along the summit plateau the cloud lifted to reveal breathtaking views of our route. We even spotted a couple of wild campers tucked away on the hillside.

Top dog

The route back to Mardale Head was varied, with some steep rocky sections interspersed by shallow gradient paths – the latter being appreciated by our tired legs.

Our wild camp spot at Mardale Head

The car park had cleared out by the time we returned so we moved location to take full advantage of the view. From here we enjoyed a lovely pasta supper before hitting the sack as we had a big day ahead of us…….

We’re back!!!

Apologies for the break in service.

Lay has worked his magic, recovered the blog from a back-up and we are now back on-line in time to blog about our life as we make the move up north!!

It’s hard to believe it has been 18 months since our last post. We will try and fill in some of the gaps over the next few months.

Lots of people are keen to hear how we get on with the big move. If you are interested you can now check in as often as you like to see how team Harker are getting on with new jobs, homes, friendships and fells. We love to hear from you to so please leave comments.

It’s good to be back xx

Viking Day at CJS

Year 4 at CJS are learning about the Vikings and what better way than to have a dress up day at school. I am so glad appropriate Viking attire is an oversized t-shirt and dressing gown belt!!!

Enjoy your day Megan the Great – try not to stab anyone with those horns!!

Megan the Viking

Meanwhile, William has finally succumbed to the flu virus and has a high temperature (38.6) so is having a duvet day today.

Poorly boy ūüôĀ

Fun in the leaves

Today we met up with Tracey and Richard.  We decided to stay local and headed to QE park where we were met with an abundance of leaves.  And I mean AN ABUNDANCE!!!  We had and awesome time having leaf fights and burying people (well mostly Megan, William and Richard) who was clearly enjoying being a big kid for the day.

Yes.. they really did bury Richard!!

We worked our way through the leaves to the cafe where we rewarded Richard with coffee and cake!!

All in all a great afternoon catching up with good friends.

Ockey the Octopus

William was special helper today and came home with Ockey.  William had to help Ockey find different sources of light.  As it was dark by the time he got home from Beavers, William used the flash on his camera as a source of light to take a picture of himself in the mirror.  He then wrote a paragraph in Ockey’s diary.  We think he did an excellent job and you can see the progress he has made in year 1 already.  What do you think????

Pop in to Pinner

We started our journey to Cumbria with a trip to Pinner to check in with Grandma and Grandad and we decided to do the same on our journey home.

Being it bank holiday Monday we decided to get up early and beat any bank holiday traffic. ¬†We set off just after 5am and had a remarkably clear journey, arriving at Grandma and Grandad’s just before 10.

The first thing we noticed was the weather.  It was SCORCHING!!  It must have been 10 degrees hotter in Pinner than we had been used to in Cumbria.

Keen to show Grandma and Grandad her new birthday present, it wasnt long before we we were enjoying a cool drink listening to Megan sing along to the soundtrack of Moana.  She is getting really good now but is a little shy infront of a new audience.

Grandma then magiced up a lovely lunch which we enjoyed in the garden.

Lunch at West End Avenue

We had to run a few errands in Pinner in the afternoon, including visiting the Clarkes shoe shop to get Megan and William their new school shoes. ¬†Both have gone up a size in a year – I was actually surprised it was not more!! ¬†It was such a hot day we couldn’t resist the lure of the ice cream van as we walked back through the park.
Before continuing on the last leg of our journey we had a lovely lasagna with a pile of fresh veg which was topped off with one of Grandma’s amazing chocolate cakes. ¬†A very indulgent day indeed!!

Our journey home was unremarkable which in itself was remarkable given the bank holiday!!!  We obviously got the timing of our journeys right today!!

Back to normality now.  We have had a great break but it is nice to be back in our own home again with so much to look forward to over the coming weeks and months.

Our last day in Cumbria

All good things have to come to an end…..

This morning, Lay ran Togo up Beacon Tarn, ending his jaunt in the hills with the same route as we started our holiday with, whilst I made a start on the task of gathering our belongings!!

We wanted to have a fairly chilled last day in Cumbria and as we had no food left in the house the one thing on our agenda was to find a local hostelry serving a traditional roast lunch.  We made contact with Clare and Tony for advice earlier in the day who suggested a few places we could try, including The Royal Oak at Spark Bridge which had recently changed hands and whose website suggested they offered a roast on Sunday.

We decided to take the chance and head for The Royal Oak.  Having run from bridge to bridge, the least we could do was eat at both bridges and undertake valuable research at the same time!!

Having not reserved a table, we arrived promptly at 12:00 when the doors opened.  We had to wait a few minutes to gain entry, although when we did we had the pick of the tables so our gamble paid off.

Once we had established they were serving roast dinner we ordered our food and drink. ¬†William was disappointed that they don’t serve jacket potato on a Sunday but was pacified with pasta with tomato and cheese sauce. ¬†Megan had fish fingers, chips and beans, whilst Lay and I opted for roast beef with all the trimmings.

Our meals were quick to arrive and we were soon tucking in.

Dinner is served!

Roast Beef with all the trimmings!

Having left four clean plates, we decided to have pudding.  I had the cheesecake, Lay the apple pie whilst Megan and William opted for the chocolate fudge cake.

All in all a delicious meal and I would be happy to recommend this venue and the roast.

Whilst we haven’t eaten out a great deal, we have discovered a few activities that have been great to keep us all amused when waiting, either for a meal to arrive, for Daddy to come down from the hills, or just filling in some time at the barn.

Our mobile entertainment!

Our portable (campervan) collection includes Make ‘n’ Break, a game introduced to us by Megan’s friend Evelina, which challenges you to build the structures on the cards using the eight¬†wooden blocks. ¬†William particularly enjoys this and is able to follow the¬†patterns accurately. ¬†The second game we have all enjoyed is Katamino, a tetris like game where you have to fit prescribed shapes into a set area that we picked up in Ambleside. ¬†The larger the area (and hence the greater number of pieces) the harder this challenge becomes. ¬†Megan is particularly good at this and is on level 6 already. The third activity is creating friendship bracelets using a Kumihimo loom, which is a¬†traditional Japanese technique of braiding strands of silk to create intricately colored cord. ¬†It is incredibly simple to do and both Megan and William managed to create a bracelet each.

We will spend our last afternoon in Cumbria at Holly Bank Barn and thank Clare and Tony for allowing us to use their home as ours for the past two weeks.  You have a great home, in a great location and we have enjoyed being back in the Lake District!!

Thank you!

This girl can!!!!

As you know, I am a triathlete in training and, when not swimming epic open water events, I have been using our time in Cumbria to become reacquainted with my bike and to test out my ankle on some gentle runs in preparation for my first event on 10 September.

Well, my Cumbrian training culminated in a mock up sprint triathlon today.  A route was planned to achieve as near to sprint distances as possible (750m open water swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run) and we managed to get pretty close.

I was dropped off at the Sunny Bank car park, where I made my way down to the jetty in my wetsuit and flip flops whilst Lay, Megan and William made their way round to the other side of the lake.  They donned high viz clothing and stood at the shore so I had something to sight for my swim.  I packed my flip flops into my inflatable tow float and set off.

Sunny Bank Jetty

The lake was calm and flat and I felt like I had the place to myself.  It was east to sight the gang on the opposite shore.  Lay had cleverly hung up my dry robe on a convenient tree stump which made it easy to spot with Megan alongside.

Leaving the water with my sighting target and no.1 fan

My time was 16:12 for the 791m swim.

Lay had set up the perfect Transition for me.  I managed to get out of my wetsuit and into my cycling shoes and jacket in 3:38.  I could save some time here with a bit of practice!!

Transition 1 – using Megan for balance!!

It felt great to be back on the bike. ¬†I extended my ‘normal’ route to go past Brantwood to the head of the lake. ¬†I hadn’t really paid attention to the contours until I was whizzing downhill to the end of the lake. ¬†I paused for a quick drink at the turnaround point and put my head down and got on with the hill. ¬†I had set my watch to buzz every 5km and this really helped to keep me going. ¬†Back in Lowick I could see my support crew waiting for me and cheering me on. ¬†A welcome sight indeed.

Arriving at Holly Bank Barn for Transition 2

My time was 55:23 for the 19.01km ride.

Transition 2 took place in the garage.  I had left this set up before the start so just had to change shoes and stow my bike.  This was slightly quicker with a transition time of 2:08.

The final leg of my triathlon was the run. This was made more bearable with the help of my support crew.  Megan was appointed to run with me for the entire distance which she did extremely well.

Setting off on the run

Spark bridge done!!

My time was 35:58 for the 4.6km run.  Not the fastest time in the world but not bad in the circumstances.

I made it!!!!

The total time for this event (including transitions) was 1:53:20.  I had hoped to achieve sub 2 hours and managed this with breathing space.  Hopefully this bodes well for a sub 2 hour time on 10 September.

I am really enjoying the triathlon training and feel confident I can fit this into my daily life with thanks to my supportive family and friends.  I am leaving Cumbria fitter and more prepared for the triathlon challenges ahead.

My new mantra…… ¬†This girl can!!!!