I knew before I opened my eyes that the wind was up. It hurled the rain against the window, forcing droplets through small gaps in the frame, spattering the deep stone sill. And I won’t pretend my heart didn’t sink, just a little, after the pure gold of the day before. A walk had been planned, a long stride over the fells. The children hankered after more time with the rods. And here was a storm, stirring up the water in the valley bottom. It would be wild on the tops.

So, bacon for breakfast, and several of mugs of tea, and from these small comforts a new plan took shape. It was time to visit the nearby towns, and avail ourselves of tea shops and lunch out and maybe a second hand bookshop or two. Other pleasures, other delights.

In the brochure advertising the charms of Maryport, it lingers in a state of perpetual summer. The sun beams down on the square, the harbour, the funny little ensemble of fishermen and a dog, caught in stone on the water’s edge. The day we went Ilse’s hat blew off three times before John stuffed it into his pocket. We put on all the clothes we had, and were still cold. There was no-one else out and about, no-one at all.

But. The lifeboat station was manned and cheery, complete with a dog ready to play. There was the vessel to admire, and stories to be listened to. There was a collection of Roman altar stones, away on the top of the hill. There was a long clifftop drive, looking out over the grey and white Irish sea. And then afterwards, in Cockermouth, lunch in a cafe with hot creamy soup and sandwiches and Ilse’s first ever pink lemonade.

The second hand bookshop yielded some treasure, too: a couple of hours back at the bothy with each of the children engrossed in new tales. More knitting, by the stove, and then a trip to sit by the open fire at the pub for a while before supper. Good things. Cosy things.

I like a good storm. I like it when the wind howls and the rain pelts you with a vengeance. I’d rather that sort of rain, if it’s going to rain at all. It’s the sort of weather that has made its mind up. It broods, and lashes out, and forces you to be cheerful in return. It wasn’t the sort of day we had hoped for, on our spring holiday in a little stone hut. But it was a good one, nonetheless.


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