It seems to have been a relentless few months with outside events taking up most of July and August with the relaxing of restrictions. The Stephen Bayliss event was a scorcher and to be honest I thought we were on to a winner with the weather looking settled. With hindsight, checking in with Carol Kirkwood might have been more prudent.

It is fair to say that in Lancashire, planning an outdoor event in the English summertime is challenging to say the least. We whisper the word ‘event’ in planning, hoping that the weather police won’t hear and bring about a cataclysmic change in the weather. Guess what, they always hear and mention ‘Chorley Flower Show’ and there will be a temperature drop of 15 degrees, torrential rain and storm force winds thrown in for good measure.

This year was no different, The 3 days of the Flower Show and the Food and Drink event in August were mostly under a black cloud, literally, but despite the weather, it was a great deal of fun and a good time was had by all who attended. We Northerners are pretty tough cookies, we just put our big coats on, brollies up and carry on!

September is now upon us and the start of the busiest season for me. Chorley Calendar is for sale in various outlets, I have commissions on the go, Fiver Fest in October and collaborations with other businesses in the pipeline which is exciting. November and December sees the return of fairs and outdoor Christmas markets and yes, without a doubt, I’ll be putting my big coat on!

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Normally, I would write a light hearted and amusing blog centred around my escapades on my walks with my camera.

With lockdown and the strange times we are living in has found my roots firmly grounded on my home turf. Turf! Now there’s a topic. The wettest eight months I’ve ever known raised the water table in my garden to new heights, leaving my turf looking for water wings and fighting for survival. Spring heralded lockdown and some of the hottest weeks for some time turning my swamp into cracked earth, with just a few Turf Warriors hanging on in there. The unpredictability of the weather is like the unpredictability of life. Shifting sands.

I‘ve had to learn to live my life in a different way. The lack of freedom to wander the fells I love, to drive to my favourite haunts for a walk with my camera, to be unable to work the way I choose and to see my family and friends. Instead, I have re engaged with my garden and in nature, in growing plants and vegetables from seed, in taking photographs of the flowers and wild life. I have been given time.

I have found new ways to engage with customers and to sell my work. I have expanded my social media networking and I am going to be updating the web page and facilitating new avenues of online marketing and selling. I will be blogging more regularly, doing a newsletter and more emailing marketing. I have been given time.

I have had to connect in different ways with family and friends, no hugs, no light lunches, no cappuccinos and chip barms, no travel, no holidays. More time to phone, to video call, to text, to whatsapp and to virtual hug by emoji.

This year, the unpredictability of life has caused devastation; sadness, anxiety, hurt, fear and sadly great loss worldwide but it has also given us hope, kindness, love, community spirit and a realisation of the importance of family and friends. Shifting sands. Stay safe.

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I think it’s fair to say that most of my walking adventures in the Eden Valley are not without incident. If it’s not blowing a hoolie, giving me a bad hair day and camera shake, it’s an encounter of the animal kind. There is one particular walk that sticks in my mind. It is a favourite of mine to the Eden Lacey Viaduct but it can be tricky at certain times of the year. You are not always sure whether you are going to meet the happy go lucky heifers and have to the run the gauntlet across the field between the two stiles. Not a great idea as they move at a pace that would give Jensen Button a run for his money. They are clever, heifers, very clever. They hide at the back of the field behind the trees and post look outs to look for unsuspecting walkers. I thought I was on a winner this day, not a peeping heifer to be had. I scoured the horizon, all sides of the field, decided I was safe to go, so climbed up the steps to the top of the stile. I turned to step down the other side when I saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye. Stopped and checked the trees again, nothing so I carried on. I kid you not, within seconds the two lookouts had gathered the rest of the renegades and were bearing down the field towards me with smoking hooves. I was back up the steps and over that stile quicker than you can say hoofing heifer.

Catching my breath, I turned round to look at them and they are all nonchalantly munching grass with an ‘it wasn’t me look’. Unreal! Heifers, hooves and heart stopping moments? Never again! I’ve changed my route.

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