Today is one of those days in Cumbria. The bright, blue kind, where azure sky stretches out, beyond the limitations of the eye. The odd fluffy cloud slides across the expanse, so slowly that its progress is imperceptible unless you give it five minutes and look again.
The hills drift into the valley haze, and the snow has melted into tiger stripes.
This is why I live in Cumbria. For the four days each year that look like this.
Ancient lime kilns nestled into the sides of the fells, small quarries nearby. These tell of a different era; when a day of hard graft didn’t end with an evening’s TV. Someone – lots of someones – chipped out limestone from those quarries, by hand. Maybe we still use some of those pieces of stone in our drystone walls now.
Shepherd stations – small houses often without windows, but with a chimney – are scattered across the isolated regions. They once provided shelter and warmth for the hard workers who followed the sheep across the hills and eventually drove them to market.
With the lack of rain of late, the ground is quite brown and the rivers and tarns are revealing their secrets. The government has temporarily relaxed its rules on long distance lorry drivers enabling them to travel further for longer, so that animal feeds can be urgently delivered to sheep and cows across the region. All the animals want is that sweet, juicy, milk producing grass, but they won’t be so lucky for a while.
Everybody twines about the terrible weather here, but when it rains it only gets greener. When I first went to University, I was homesick for about 6 months. It rained all the time in Huddersfield, but it only got greyer. It wasn’t so bad – I stayed nearly 13 years in urban West Yorkshire – but having left for so long, I now never fail to appreciate how wonderful and magical it is to live here in bonny Cumbria.
Come visit us sometime. You’ll take it away with you; a little sliver stuck in your heart forever.