First off, my Dad and my brother both have birthdays in October so we have an annual family meet-up to celebrate both of them at the same time. We've done various things together over the years, and this year we decided to make the most of a glorious Autumn weekend and head to Derbyshire for a walk in the hills. As you can imagine, the dog was the first one to be ready, keen to get out and about with all those new smells!
We went to Monsal Dale in the Peak District National Park, somewhere new to us all. My brother and his wife are seasoned walkers who, along with my Dad, will think nothing of a ten or twelve mile walk in a day. However, we've got people with much shorter legs to think about, and whilst the dog would have cheerfully tackled a twelve mile walk, small daughter wouldn't. So we used our book Derbyshire Walks with Children and found a much more suitable four mile walk instead.
After a steep hill up, we were out in the hills and quickly found ourselves far too hot with our jackets on. Naturally, as it was a birthday weekend we managed to pack some essential supplies in our rucksack ...
... but unfortunately we forgot to pack a knife so we just pulled chunks off the cake and ate it in a very unsophisticated manner - and it tasted wonderful! There's something about food eaten outdoors anyway, but sharing our picnics and the birthday cake made it all taste extra-special.
We continued on our walk. Small daughter insisted on walking at the front, waving the stick that she had found and singing to herself as she marched ahead. Then came my Dad, my brother and his wife and big daughter, with my husband and me bringing up the rear with the dog (who needed to stay on his lead because of livestock, much to his disgust). It was lovely to watch the different generations of the family together, and all the more so because we don't often get chance to spend much time together during the year.
We stopped for a welcome drink and ice-cream at Hobb's cafe at Monsal Head - clearly a popular choice as the place was very busy. Luckily for us, they weren't so busy that they couldn't put our rucksack safely away when we forgot it and had to go back for it!
Our walk took us on to a weir where we had quite a job keeping both the dog and small daughter out of the water. It wasn't helped by the fact that small daughter's uncle was encouraging them both to leap in - although I noticed he wasn't offering to carry small daughter back to the car after she'd been fished out soaking wet!
We moved on quickly before anyone got drenched and found ourselves on the last section of our walk.
The scenery was beautiful and the sky much bluer than the photos show. In fact, it was perfect walking weather and we wished the weather could have been the same the following weekend when big daughter went back to Derbyshire to complete her Duke of Edinburgh expedition. Sadly, it threw it down all weekend and she was one very wet and tired daughter when we went to pick her up from the train station - but we were still very proud of her for completing her expedition!
The rain continued for most of the week, with a break in the clouds one morning when I drove my husband to the station long enough to give this beautiful sunrise ...
... and later on whilst out with the dog the sun was still shining. Doesn't the sun look huge in this photo? I took it without really being able to see as the sun was in my eyes, but I think it looks amazing!
On the whole, the dog and I have spent the week being rather wet when we've been out on our walks. It didn't stop me collecting these, though.
These little treasures are rosehips and I've been wanting to make syrup with them ever since I found the recipe in my favourite drinks book. They contain more Vitamin C than citrus fruit and were regularly made into syrup during rationing, but obviously I'm not old enough to remember that! I do remember my Mum buying rosehip syrup to give to my brother when he was a baby, though, and I can remember trying it too and thinking it was wonderful. So, I decided to make the most of the hedgerow gift and make some for myself.
And this is it! It doesn't taste quite the same as I remember it, but it's still rather nice all the same.