I remember the day our baby sister, Juliet was born. She caused a bit of a kerfuffle – what with it being a month early. We lived in the sticks in Cornwall, no car, no phone…Mum made it known that she was in labour and a panicked dad was duly despatched to call for the ambulance from the public call box half a mile away. He ran. The tiny baby was transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit – no-one had ever heard of this, it was a brand new kind of care setting. Mum later said that the baby “weighed less than 2 bags of sugar!” We were suitably impressed with this meaningless fact, not having a clue what size babies were meant to be. After a glorious couple of weeks where dad was in charge of everything – bedtime when we wanted, no school, sugar in everything – mum brought the baby home. Rosie and I were invited to look at our new sister. Mother gave us the distinct impression that the baby was beautiful but what we saw was a red, screaming, skinny thing waving stick-thin arms and legs. And it was ugly. “Oh, she’s lovely!” we lied and went outside to play. We didn’t have high hopes for this mewling monster but after a few months she grew into a placid, gorgeous, bonny, blonde baby with big round eyes and fat, chubby arms and legs who smiled at everyone.

Many years later, Juliet is still generally good-tempered, beautiful (of course) and reckons she’s still blonde…We don’t see so much of each other these days so we were very pleased when she arranged to visit.

Juliet arrived at Blea Tarn on Sunday – the start of what is our weekend. Our critters don’t care what day of the week it is – they just love Juliet. All of us Waugh girls are the same – if it’s got fur or feathers, pads or paws, woofs or whines, whiskers or wings – we love them all. And so they all descended upon her for cuddles and attention. To be fair, though, they had all forgotten that this comes at the price of their dignity…

….and so it was that Tommy Top Cat ended up as the slightly astonished recipient of kisses on his face and nose, when he’s used to giving nose bumps on his terms…After the initial shock, he didn’t seem to mind too much….Daisy, who doesn’t like to be picked up was rather taken aback when she was swooshed up off the back of the sofa and snuggled up to….Paddy came in for an exploratory chat and ended up having smooches before he headed upstairs for safety.

A surprised Daisy Bengal

In the meantime, the Delighted Doggies also piled in – Luna got lots of attention as she pranced around the room. Flash didn’t know what to do so sat on his dad after Dukey squashed us by insisting on sitting on Juliet’s lap. It was a bit bonkers but brilliant fun.

And then, fluffy old Fred the Red rolled up – and also wanted petting! Our wee, shy boy who wouldn’t come out from under the bed for a long, long time came out and sat on Juliet’s knee and purred his little head off. And then allowed himself to be lifted up and cuddled. Sometimes animals just know they’re in good company….

We decided that a trip to the pub was in order. “Let’s walk!” said Juliet. So off went, into the gloaming, down the Big Hill and into the ODG. It’s always great when you walk round the bends and see the warm lights twinkling up at you…We only stayed for dinner and coffee before stepping back out into the night (it gets dark quickly here) and discovered that the rain which had been forecast for later had arrived early…Onwards and upwards we went, anyway, getting wetter and colder. Thank god it’s only just over a mile! Dukey Boy was a good lad and he pulled me up, as usual…Luna bounced up with Juliet …and Flash fretted about not being in front…At home, we hung our dripping clothes on the old meat hooks above the fire and then headed for hot showers. Bliss.

Langdale buildings tucked into the mountainside

Monday morning probably dawned bright and early and sunny but I was asleep and missed it. Juliet brought me a coffee in bed. Let me say that again: Juliet. Brought. Me. A. Coffee. In. Bed. *Gasps all round* This may be the first time this has ever happened. Seriously. Must be time to get dressed!

We were aiming for brekkie at Chesters but by the time we set out, it was lunchtime…no surprises there. But we didn’t care, we weren’t in any rush – it was a lovely day and the views through Langdale were wonderful, as we headed over to Elterwater. It’s only a little walk over to Skelwith Bridge from there but it is beautiful and always interesting. The water was still running high – the Force was so powerful that the water was turquoise as it boiled under the mighty influx. No wonder, there was a water mill and gunpowder works down here in the past. Lakeland wasn’t always this quaint chocolate box painting – there were mines, quarries, factories, mills. A lot more people lived in the valley even in the 1930s. I don’t know when tourism really took off but it’s had a massive impact on the community. Still, things change – that’s the nature of our society – so there we were, heading towards lunch in a vegetarian cafe which the Victorian mill workforce might have found a little bit surprising….

We took our time over lunch and looking round the shop, so walked back the same way. The views from Elterwater over to the Langdale Pikes were stunning. There were lots of other doggies about and Luna had a lovely time making new friends. Juliet went back home later that afternoon after communing with the chickens. I don’t see enough of my lil sis – need to do this more often. See you soon, Juliet x

Published by Sue Lee

The challenges of living off grid at the top of The Big Hill at Blea Tarn in the Langdale valley with a few furries & my other half, Mr Pat.

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