Skiddaw, Varnish Disaster and 2013 365 Challenge #43

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Today is all about hiking. I can only do the hiking posts when I have the energy because I need to put in a lot more research. It is worth it though. I have done a bit of hiking in the UK including in the Lake District (in the days when I lived in Manchester and the Lakes weren’t so far away!). I haven’t done Skiddaw but my first ever hike was Striding Edge at Helvellen so I can appreciate some of what Claire might experience.

Can I just add, I love this photo of Skiddaw! It is so atmospheric, perfect for putting me in the right mood for Claire’s day-hike. I really appreciate sites like that let me look for images without worrying about copyright.

I need something to smile about today as I just lost 8 new abstract-art cards (meant for a commission with a deadline of this Thursday) because the varnish didn’t go down right. It happens sometimes but it still means four or five hours’ work lost and is always frustrating. Especially as I’m running out of time to start again as we get the kids in half an hour! 🙂 I try not to do painting in acrylic with little ones around…

Update: turns out Dettol Surface Cleaner doesn’t get varnish off acrylic paint but Vaseline (petroleum jelly) does. Which begs the question what does the stuff do to a little one’s bottom? At least the 7 out of 8 of the pictures were saved (one was scrubbed a bit too hard…) It does mean yet another nursery day has gone by without me getting ahead with Claire’s story. Child collection time and hiking research not yet started. Oops. Going to be a light post again today. Sigh.


“How are the boots?”

“Better than the Helly Hansens although it pains me to admit it. It’s nice not to be wearing jeans too. I’m glad I stopped by Cotswolds before we left Carlisle.”

“Well done.”

Claire beamed at Josh as if she had passed a test by getting the right gear. Even though he hadn’t been on the Pennine Walk he had read the blog post and seen the pictures.

“I can’t imagine how you didn’t get frost bite or at least torn muscles hiking in the snow in jeans. Idiot.”

“Thanks.” Claire paused to catch her breath. “Let’s say I’m learning on the job.” She turned to take in the view of Derwentwater nestled below amidst hills and woodland. Even on a bitter winter day it was quite a sight. “It must be impressive in the summer with a blue sky and a bit more green.”

Josh turned and walked back to where she stood. He reached over and held his hand to her forehead. “Are you ill?”

“No I feel great, why?”

“You’re being complimentary about the scenery and the nearest city is miles away. Are you sure you’re not crook?”

“Ha bloody ha. I was brought up in the countryside. Just because I don’t choose to live there doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally think it’s pretty. I think Cath Kidston tea-towels are pretty but I wouldn’t give them houseroom.”

Josh smiled and gestured up the zig-zagging track. “Come on, there isn’t much daylight this far north at this time of year. If you want your precious picture for Carl we need to get to the summit before it gets dark.”

“Lead on, McDuff.”

“What?” Josh twisted round as he walked.

“Oh, nothing. It’s from Shakespeare. I think. Uncle Jim used to say it when we were younger. He probably had it wrong, he was always misquoting things.”

“You’ve never mentioned any of your family before.”

It was on Claire’s lips to say You haven’t either, but she didn’t want the smile to leave Josh’s face. Instead she forced out a low chuckle. “With my family there isn’t much to say. Uncle Jim was easily the best of them.”


“He died. Heart attack. Crazy really. Dad’s always been the one with the high-profile job, bad diet, too much wine. Uncle Jim loved sailing, spent half his life in the great outdoors. Much good it did him.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I guess we all gotta go at some point.”

Silence fell between them and they followed the line of cairns that lead to Skiddaw.

“Brrrr.” Claire pulled her jacket in tighter and huddled against the wind as they reached the ridge. She looked around her in surprise, wondering when the sky had filled with ominous-looking clouds.

“Bugger, looks like it’s going to rain.”

“And some, I should think. Best pick up the pace. Right gear or not, it won’t be pleasant up on the ridge in a hail storm.”

The words were whisked from Josh’s mouth as a gust of wind tore through them. Claire stumbled and reached out instinctively for Josh’s arm.

“Sorry, caught me by surprise.”

“No worries. Come on, let’s do this, now we’re here.” He linked his arm through Claire’s and they strode on towards the top of Skiddaw, determined not to be beaten by the weather.

“Ow.” A lump of ice hit Claire on the shoulder, followed swiftly by another. “Damn, that hurt.”

“Sook. It was just a bit of hail. Here, pass me your phone, let’s get this photo taken while you’ll still be distinguishable in it.”

Claire plastered her best approximation of a smile on her face as Josh pointed the iPhone in her direction. She snatched the phone as soon as he indicated the picture was taken and turned back the way they had come.

“Aren’t you going to come to the top? We’re so close.”

“What for? I did what I came to do. I want a hot shower and a mug of Earl Grey.”

“Come on. You can’t chicken out now. Come bag a munro or whatever the English equivalent is.”

“Bag a what?” Claire glared at Josh and then looked back down the path. Even though it was clearly marked she wasn’t happy hiking solo. With a heavy sigh that was swept away before it could reach Josh she turned and followed him up the hill.

“Whose stupid idea was this?”


“Bugger, it was, you’re right. Well, that’s it. The next extreme sport I’m doing is extreme cocktail drinking followed by extreme shopping.”

“Well on that adventure you’re on your own. I told you, cities give me soul-ache.” Josh’s shouted words were said without emphasis but Claire could hear the goodbye in them. The thought caused a stab of pain under her ribs. Having been fine to start the adventure on her own it now seemed impossibly hard to travel on without someone beside her.

“Where will you go?”

They had reached the top and peered through the sleet to try and see Bassenthwaite. Claire thought she could just about distinguish the lake in the distance although everything was blending into matching hues of grey so it was hard to be sure.

“I’ll stay in Keswick. Seems a bonzer place. Might try for some work.”

“I thought you wanted to head south. The city was your idea.”

“I did what I needed to do yesterday in Carlisle, she’s sweet.”

There didn’t seem to be any more words so they turned and walked together back down the hill.


2 thoughts on “Skiddaw, Varnish Disaster and 2013 365 Challenge #43

  1. Hi Amanda, nice story, it is definitely enticing me in! I love the idea of the slash/slash generation. I now juggle two part time jobs and still havn’t done anything with my writing. I thought I was time poor when i was a stay at home Mum, it’s even worse now!

    • I’m glad you like the story. It has good days and bad days (usually depending how tired I am!). Finding time to write is hard, finding any energy left after you’ve given it all to two jobs and some children must be almost impossible. Maybe you need to explore Flash Fiction. I read some great examples, especially on the Apprentice, Never Master blog. I figure if you can write a story in 100 words you’re really honing your craft. I couldn’t do it, I tend to the verbose for sure. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂

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