We have just returned from a really wonderful weekend in the Lake District - absolutely just the tonic for the January blues. 'Just the tonic' for all sorts of reasons but perhaps mostly because we have been to bear witness to our friends' brave and brilliant change of lifestyle.
David and Manda have been our friends for over 20 years. Living nearby and bringing up their family of three who are similar ages to our older girls, we have been close chums for a long time, so, imagine our surprise when they announced last year that they were heading up to the Lake District to run a B&B and change their lives. We worried for them that they would be lonely away from their busy social lives around here and that Manda, who was giving up her well-paid job, would miss her steady income. Oh, and we teased them relentlessly about being the new Basil and Sybil of Fawlty Towers.
We arrived at their new home/business on Friday night, twins in tow, in the dark and were immediately bowled over by the lovely welcoming atmosphere of Low Graythwaite Hall. Manda is a terrific homemaker and her light touch was everywhere. I had forgotten how stunningly beautiful the Lake District is and the following morning when we woke up (me ridiculously early because I couldn't wait to see the lovely countryside) it was a clear, crisp, sunny day with frost dusting the topiary outside my bedroom window.
We walked (and climbed some very steep hills!) and talked all weekend, drank too much wine, ate too, too well and sadly watched Andy Murray bite the dust (or rather the tarmac) in sunny Melbourne. Even that didn't dampen my spirits - and I kept my usual level of shouting at the television at such times down to an acceptable level (because there were proper B&B guests in the room directly above). It was all brilliant.
It made me wonder... could we ever do something so brave? I don't know but it certainly gave me food for thought. It also reminded me of the wonderful writer, Derek Tangye who is sadly no longer with us. Derek was a Fleet Street journalist and his wife Jeannie was the public relations officer for the Savoy Hotel. They gave it all up to farm daffodils in Cornwall in the 1960s and Derek wrote some beautiful books about their experiences there. Though I haven't read them for many years, I still remember the wonderful sense of peace in a busy world that they gave me and I felt that same peace in the Lakes.
So, I've made it to the end of January (my worst month), I'm feeling better than I've felt for weeks, thanks to my Lake District jaunt and now all I have to face is ... oh, no, another birthday!