Roachside Cottage has been mostly closed through the last couple of months while my daughter has been in hospital.
With the Covid crisis, there's been no visiting allowed, but just ferrying laundry and some of her medical supplies between home and the hospital 50 miles away has meant I've had to stay very flexible with my time.
This afternoon, we called at the cottage to check that the heating was still running and, given that it was a spectacularly beautiful day, take a short walk over the escarpment. We were back at the cottage well before the sun went down and sat outside with a mug of coffee, reflecting on life, the universe and everything - or maybe just drinking in the wonderous view.
Just sitting there, my mind drifted and I found myself musing that we live our life very much in phases - our childhood gives way to our teenage rebellious years, then we form our adult characters and find partners. Then comes the stress of becoming a parent, followed by our "golden years" where we can focus on our careers. They're all phases of our lives.
When I left my former employer at the age of 54, I entered a new "phase", stepping out into a harsh commercial world, selling my acquired knowledge around the industry as a consultant - great fun and very personally satisfying when it went well.
A few years ago though, that exciting, "whizzing about everywhere and meeting every challenge" phase had to end when I was widowed and began yet another, slower phase, running this cottage and forging it into a thriving business.
Sitting at the picnic table this afternoon, I mused on how, in my 69th year, the next "phase" probably involves being dead!
Time for a night at the pub, I think
It's 2nd January 2022.
Only a couple of weeks since the shortest day of the year and already the extra 8 minutes of daylight seemed to re-invigorate the older one of us.
It's astonishing how I always feel brighter and ready for the coming spring once the Christmas decorations have been put back into their boxes and stowed away in the attic.
This morning, we were out well before dawn for a dog walk before a day of cleaning and bed-making at Roachside Cottage.
As we came back along the west shore of Rudyard Lake, the rising sun painted the sky with gorgeous delicate colours, reflected and dancing on the surface of the water as the Dam Head crew towed the small open boats to the jetty for a queue of anglers waiting with their equipment.
This is a good way to start anyone's day! Is it surprising that Kipling's parents named him after this place?
Running Roachside Cottage means that there are very few days when we aren't committed to some task or other - changeovers, laundry visits, routine maintenance, shopping for supplies and, of course, litter picking 4 times a week.
Today however, the only thing in the diary was to deliver a friend to Manchester Airport before dawn. That left us with a whole beautiful autumn day to wander about ourselves.
A good old stomp through the calf-deep fallen leaves at Alderley Edge, a fabulous breakfast of scrambled eggs & smoked salmon sitting in the early morning sun at the Wizard Tearoom (how often can you do that in November!), then a short hop over to our beloved Goyt Valley for a walk round the reservoirs to see the views opened up by recent tree harvesting.
All the while, running through my mind was the line from Simon & Garfunkel's "Only livin' boy in New York";
........I've got nothin' to do today, but smile...........😊
It's only a week since we were wandering about the Peak District in comparatively warm weather - we had breakfast in the sunshine at Alderley Edge for goodness sake!
Storm Arwen has put an abrupt stop to that! Heavy snowfall and winds oof almost 100 miles per hour have swept down from the Arctic across much of Northern Britain.
Our guests have been without electricity (and consequently water & heating too) since the early hours of Saturday morning. It's now 11:00am Monday and there are still 800+ properties without power. It came back for a short while earlier, but that's obviously revealed another pole down somewhere.
This is the full "Moorlands Winter Experience", it's the Peak District, we expect this to happen occasionally. Our guests were very resourceful - melting snow over the log burner to enable them to flush the loo, but, in the end, they had to evacuate by torchlight and head for civilisation.
We were up at Roachside in expectation of restoration this pm and whiled away an hour or two with a mini-epic "up top", where the snow had drifted and was chest deep in places.
Poor old Scout was burrowing through the snow and accumulated about her own weight in ice-balls stuck to her fur.
Cracking views though!
This time of the year is when we see more cloud inversions than any other.
On the way over to Leek this morning, we caught this rather splendid sight of Gun Hill and the Roaches beyond, sitting in a sea of fallen clouds.
I know it's only billions of droplets of water floating about in very slowly moving air, but it certainly adds a mystical dimension to the landscape.