Keswick Mountain Festival

If you are able to travel to the Keswick Mountain Festival next year – Do it!

The Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) is the UK’s largest Mountain Festival – a heady mix of sport, music, food and fun held on the shore of Derwent Water, in what must be one of the most beautiful festival spots in all of England.

Note the setting – doesn’t get much better that this!

Sporty and On-the-way-to-sporty types will have lots to enjoy – taster events and challenging races on foot, bike and water are available to adults and young ‘uns.  There are also exhibitors, food stalls, a roster of impressive speakers, a mix of live music, and the chance to enjoy the surrounding countryside.

This was my first KMT, my Best Beloved’s second. (He’s Sporty; I’m just beginning the journey to rediscover my sportiness.)  We went as a sort-of-a date. So it was primarily dinner and a concert for us – we’ve a fondness for fiddle, whistle and pipes, and the setting is perfect for such.

Among the offerings, we chose to share a pizza from Woody’s Rustic Pizza. What a fun lot of people, and they make delicious flame-kissed, thin crusted pizza pies!

And they kindly let me get a close up of their mobile wood-fired oven in action.

One apology, though.  We practically inhaled our Marguerita pizza – so no photos of it.

Our second share was a Chakalaka Chicken Wrap from Safari, specializing in South African fare. Why?  Equal parts food description and how much fun we had saying ‘Chakalaka Chicken’.

And then we needed a drink. BB went the Taylor’s tent for a beer, I opted for a Yorkshire Tea from the fun folks at Oatopia.

We just had enough time for dessert before the Peatbog Faeries arrived onstage. With the sent of deep-fried dough in the air, it was inevitable…


These convivial folk were entertaining and served up some seriously tasty churros.

From the happy FryMaster…
To she who applied sweetness in the form of cinnamon sugar and melted Belgian chocolate. 🙂

Oh. My. Word.  These were so good.

I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff. Delicioso!

At that point, we two stuffed people were joined by three lovely family/friends and a jolly lab named Poppy.

Poppy tugged her person up the top of the hill when the band came on, but the remaining four of us joined the jolly crowd to soak in some celtic-infused music and maybe dance a wee jig or two.

Headed toward the stage. That setting!
Quick close-up of the Peatbog Faeries starting off…

Our quick dip into the KMF was much enjoyed by both of us, and we hope to enjoy a bit more of what’s on offer next year.  They’ve not announced the dates for 2018, but I’ll give a shout out when they do.


Herdy Girl

What the heck’s a Herdy?

Hello! Glad you asked!

Two Herdwick hoggs or hoggets, at least a year old and before their first shearing.

Herdies, better known as Herdwick Sheep are the native breed of the Lake District and West Cumbria.  Their name is said to derive from the ancient Norse word herdvyck, meaning sheep pasture, and it is speculated that the ancestors of today’s Herdwick flocks were brought over during 10th and 11th century Viking invaders.

What historians do know is that 12th century documents highlight the importance of the breed to the area and its people.

Purebred Herdies are born black and are just as bouncy and cute as any lambs can be.
Like many of us, Herdies go through an awkward stage, during which their heads and legs turn white and their fleece a warm dark brown.

At a year old they are called hoggs or hoggets, and their distinctive ‘friendly’ face really glows against their dark wool.  They are the unofficial mascots of the beautiful Lake District.

Somehow they know we love them; they’ll even pose for the camera.

After their first shearing, their fleece is slatey-grey and it lightens as they age.  (Kind of like – ahem – my hair… )

Windswept ewe by Crummock Water

I think they are lovely at all stages of Herdiness.  They make me smile with their docile faces and stubborn, tough natures. I love that they wear their age and experience for all to see.

This mature ewe in Wasdale was quiet friendly.

Herdwick wool is coarse and tough, and was once much valued for the making of carpets.  Modern fibres put paid to that, and in recent times the wool has been so low in value that farmers sometimes were forced to burn countless unsold fleeces.  Times are again changing.  New uses for strong Herdwick wool are being thought up by creative people who love the breed and value their fleece. (More on this in future posts!)

Lovely Herdwick Tup (breeding male) catching 40 winks at Woolfest 2016 in Cockermouth.

Why did I choose Herdy Girl as my moniker?

Herdies are one of the few breeds that heft or heaf.  Becoming hefted means that each generation is taught a sense of belonging to a particular home in the fells.  Herdies are able to return to their hefted home even after being moved about during lambing, shearing or flood.

As a military brat who never truly felt a sense of home in any one place, I greatly admire this ability.  As a person of faith, I’ve felt a yearning toward something better, somewhere more. So, I’m working at becoming hefted to good things – beauty (so easy to find in the Lake District), gratitude, kindness, pure unadulterated laughter, attaining wisdom and knowledge, nurturing true relationships… You know, the good stuff.

Good Stuff. Like sitting in a field of wildflowers and soaking up birdsong.

Also, my hair is curly and has grey speed-stripes, and my Taller Half says I’m cute.  Charming Herdwick sheep are cute.  Herdy Girl.  I’ll go with that!


Herdy Girl

Scattered Roots (My first blog post ever.)

Looking forward to seeing what’s around the bend.


So… Mel Robbins’ Five Second Rule keeps showing up in my feed.  Has to be for a reason.

I can take a hint… Time to leap into the unknown.

Here it bloomin’ goes.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1:

Tiny me.

See that four-year old little girl?  That’s me.  By that age, we’d moved several times and were back in my father’s home state of South Carolina.  Dad had joined the United States Air Force straight out of high school, and he met my mother when he was stationed in England.  They married and out I popped just before my folks were sent to a base in Germany.

We moved a lot; we managed.  I was shy. A lovely sister joined us when I was seven. She was not shy. We moved within the US. The moving slowed down, we moved to England.  Suffolk, to be exact. I was a little less shy. Dad retired in 1984 and we moved stateside. I’ve always love both England and America (especially the South), their cultures and landscape and people. Hopefully, I have inherited some of the best traits of both!

In all that moving, my juvenile roots didn’t go deep. I never really knew either my paternal or maternal families very well. Friends came and went. (In gardening terms, my roots were just spinning around my little container, pot-bound.)

So much life ahead of us…

In quick order followed HS Graduation (30 years and one day ago), move to University and subsequent graduation, Marriage exactly one week later, two moves and Parenthood, five moves later…

Our unit of three, a container garden if you will, stayed in one place long enough to break out and entangle our roots with those around us.  We were watered by southern hospitality, and fed by several loving communities of faith and by friendships.

When our only child graduated from university, my Best Beloved and I found ourselves looking at the next phase and feeling a pull towards England. An opportunity to move there presented itself, so we sold up the farm (literally) and moved across the Atlantic Ocean.  We are now living in a part of the UK far from any of our previous homes.

One of my favourite views

We’ve lived in our rented accommodation for eighteen months. It’s a lovely home in an amazing setting.  I’ve grown to love it, and to find it both a balm and an inspiration.  Tentative roots have gone into the garden, the community and the entire region.

I’d like to share my journey in this beautiful place.  Please join me as I explore Cumbria and the Lake District.  I’ll welcome you into my kitchen and garden (even if those locations change, sadly).  We’ll become rooted in a new way in this (sometimes scary, sometimes heartwarming) place called the internet.


Herdy Girl