Retirement has completely changed my experience of winter and given the season a different character that is new and refreshing. I have always dreaded the winter and would become quite low in November as the days got shorter and colder. But now we are retired and no longer tied to just two days of freedom we can take off for a day trip or camping tour as soon as sunshine is forecast. This flexibility means that winter starts to feel like a succession of fantastic frosty and sunny days and is suddenly much more enjoyable and fun. Last week we spotted another window of opportunity to make the most of the blue skies and we headed north. After some mooching around the border city of Carlisle with its red sandstone castle and marvellous museum, we visited the dramatic ruin of Lowther Castle whose roof was removed in the 1950s to save the estate from crippling taxation. The castle and gardens have been recently opened up and are a fantastic place for a day out at any time of year.
We returned south via another ruin, Shap Abbey. Set in an idyllic and peaceful valley the remains of this ancient abbey are open to the public, although only one tower remains from the original buildings. From the village of Shap we had views to the Lake District fells dusted in snow and in the sunshine the north-west of England showed off its most beautiful side.
We popped in to Preston for old times sake and were pleased to see the hot potato and parched peas stall [the original street food] was still doing business in the Flag Square. Continuing south to the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire we had a great day walking in more sunshine. Then the weekend arrived and with it the drizzle. We met friends for a pub lunch and a walk and had a lovely afternoon thanks to excellent waterproofs but it would have been better if the fine weather had blessed those working folk too.
PS the quote is from Robert Frost.