Category Archives: Local stuff

Bookshop Trail

The other day I picked up a leaflet somewhere about a bookshop trail.  Not just any bookshop trail, but specifically the ‘Dales & Lakes Bookshop Trail’, which is a collective of secondhand bookshops in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national parks and their surroundings.

I’d never come across this before, and was delighted to find that there are twenty-six participating stores, including several in the small “book town” of Sedbergh, which is situated roughly half way between Kendal and Yorkshire.  We visited the town for the first time last year and I was amazed at the number of book shops lining the streets.  Now, apparently, there are six – not bad for a town of around 3,000 people!

And it’s not just Sedbergh.  The shops listed cover a vast area from Hawes and Hebden Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales, to Keswick and Penrith in northern Cumbria, Whitehaven on the far west coast, and Cartmel and Grange-over-Sands in the south.

It’s an impressive cooperative project.  And I’m really looking forward to trying to visit every bookshop on the list!

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Filed under Books, Local stuff, News

Ja Windermere!

Dave and I haven’t been particularly well lately – all kinds of winter bugs at work – but last Saturday we shuffled up the hill to Windermere town centre to see the “German” Christmas market.

Ja Windermere is a brand new venture which has never been run before.  And it was very sweet.  Hardly in the same league as Birmingham’s famous Frankfurt Christmas Market, but it featured around 40 stalls selling food, drink and gifts, and was large enough to have closed two of the roads in the town centre (with parking for reindeer behind the Tourist Information Centre!).

The main difference to other Christmas markets is that it was only German in name and style, not in content.  There were a couple of stalls selling gluhwein, and one doing Frankfurters and German sausages, but apart from that all the produce was local, and the whole event was sponsored by Made In Cumbria, a local trade cooperative organisation.

Even so, it was great fun and had really drawn in the crowds.  We spent an enjoyable 20 minutes strolling round the stalls, bought a handful of bits and bobs (including some Herdwick cards to frame) and then shuffled home again.

I’ve since read in the local papers that it was a roaring success, so hopefully we can expect a bigger and better Ja Windermere here next year.

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Coppermines in the sleet

Tuesday was Dave’s birthday and although the weather wasn’t great we decided to take the day off and go out somewhere.  ‘Somewhere’ proved to be Coniston, after an interesting drive avoiding fallen trees.  We hadn’t been for over a year (even though it’s only about 12 miles away) so it was great to see the place again.  First stop was a coffee in front of a roaring (and very welcome) log fire in the Meadowdore Café – an old favourite from days of yore when I visited the area with my parents.  And then we donned boots and waterproofs and set off for a walk up the famous Coppermines Valley.

The weather at valley level wasn’t great – cold, windy and spattering with rain – but as we climbed it deteriorated.  Coppermines (a hanging valley) isn’t all that far above sea level but as soon as we got up and over the lip, we met the wind.  In spades.  Howling straight off the snow-covered fells above, and bringing curtains of horizontal sleet with it.  You might say it was bracing.  It was also freezing, wet, and difficult to stand upright.  We struggled along the miners’ track for a few hundred yards, took some photos of a sheep (those Herdies are tough), and decided enough was enough.

We thawed out soon enough over a pub lunch at the Black Bull, but it does make you wonder how the miners managed – not only having to walk further in bad weather, but then putting in a twelve hour shift of hard work afterwards, in clothes that were quite probably soaked right through.

Here’s a couple of photos to show what it was like.  The blobs show how hard it was to keep the sleet off the camera lens!



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Autumn colours – and snow!

I got cabin fever this afternoon so set off for a walk round the local streets – and because we’d had the first proper snowfall of the winter overnight, I took my camera with me.

It wasn’t sunny, but there were odd brighter gleams amongst the dark clouds, just enough to light up some of the last remaining autumn colours, and the snowy fells.

Here’s a couple of photos to show you the general effect.  Both are in/around Windermere, though neither show our house!



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For some reason we’ve kept missing all the good firework displays the last few years.  Either we’ve been travelling, or we’ve been double-booked to do something else, or we’ve missed seeing that they were on.

So we were really pleased on Saturday to be in the right place at the right time to head to Windermere rugby club for their annual display, which has a reputation for being good.  And boy, good it certainly was.  We arrived just after 6.30 pm (along with half the rest of south Cumbria by the looks of it) to find a huge bonfire blazing merrily in one corner of the site, as well as stalls doing food, hot drinks, sparklers, and plastic flashy things for the kids.

Dave had hoped to sneak a sausage from the barbecue but the queue was half way round the pitch (and never did seem to go down) so as we’d already eaten he showed great fortitude and managed without.

The fireworks were due to start at 7 pm but there was quite a lengthy delay, possibly because they were still trying to let people in through the main gate.  We reckon there could easily have been several thousand attending – quite amazing for a small rugby club in a very small town.  It was worth the wait, though, because the display was spectacular.  Not quite Madeira at New Year, perhaps, but then few places are.  And we more than got our money’s worth with fifteen to twenty minutes of colour, light, and above all noise.  Definitely better than scurrying around trying to light Roman Candles and Catherine Wheels one by one with a taper in the back yard!

The only slight fly in the evening’s entertainment was getting back out again.  Several thousand people converged on the main gate at once, and the lane outside was completely unlit and partly blocked with cars.  One lass had already tripped up and hurt herself, and the scene had all the makings of a nasty stampede.  Luckily we got through with nothing worse than a few accidental bruises, but we’re hoping they sort that out for next year because it would be a shame to see such an enjoyable event cancelled as so many others have been.

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Filed under Events, Local stuff

Woolly things

a-wool_herdy_teddy-4716This morning we pottered in to Kendal to visit the Woogathering festival for the first time since we moved up here.  Every year since we’ve managed to miss it, either through ill health or through being somewhere else in the country the one weekend it was on.

This year, we were determined to go, and go we did.  It’s by no means the largest festival in the world, but we were surprised by how much was on offer, and by how popular it seems to be.  People were turning up to the main venue, K Village, in their droves.  Or should that be herds?

Puns aside, there were whole rooms full of stalls selling wool, knitting accessories, sheepy things and yet more wool, as well as gifts made from wool and gifts you could make yourself from wool.  In the main aisle of the mall were two rather unusual visitors – alpacas, making themselves thoroughly at home.  And in a tent outside there was a pop-up café doing lamb burgers, right alongside a display of real, live sheep.  Perhaps not the most tactful arrangement ever, but the sheep didn’t seem to be complaining.  Not even the Ouessant, an ancient Celtic breed which are apparently the smallest in the world.  Next door to the sturdy Herdwicks and Rough Fells, they looked like specially-bred lap-sheep.

A short walk along the river to the Museum of Lakeland Life took us to the other main display, this time of hundreds of knitted and hand-crafted sheep made by local school children and dementia sufferers, which are due to be auctioned for charity tomorrow.  They were exceptionally cute, but we suspect rather fleeting.  It rained a lot overnight so the organisers were late putting them out (flocking across the lawn outside the museum), and as we left it was starting to drizzle again.  Since none of them had been provided with knitted umbrellas, they were probably herded straight back indoors.

All in all it was a really fun, lively event, and lovely to see people er, flocking to K Village again which has been rather tumbleweed-y of late.  And the event is still on tomorrow, so if you’re anywhere near Kendal, do pop in and fuzz a sheep!

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Wray Castle

wray_2After trying and failing to get in on Easter Saturday, yesterday we had another go, and this time got parked nice and early and were scratching at the main castle door just as it opened.

The morning was damp and drizzly so it was the ideal place to stomp round and explore – and there seems to be more to explore every time we go.  The National Trust are restoring/renovating slowly but surely; this time they’d painted the library, re-hung the vast hanging lantern over the hall, and opened up a whole new section on an upper floor.  This required a good head for heights since the staircase up to it was quite precipitous, but there were some nice views out of the windows and a sudden glimpse of a stained glass roof-light that would be completely hidden from anywhere else.

The castle is full of nooks, crannies and quirks like that and is thoroughly fascinating to go round.  We love the story that James Dawson, the Liverpool surgeon who built it, couldn’t actually live in it full-time until after his wife died because she disliked the place so much!  I have to admit that as a cosy, practical home it would probably be terrible – it’s so big it must be almost impossible to heat, and the flat ‘castle-y’ roofs let in the rain.  But as a stately pile it takes some beating.

By late morning the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to break through the cloud, so we had a brief walk down the edge of the lake, to a new jetty they’ve just built to allow the lake cruisers to moor up.  It’s a good idea, because it means foot passengers can access the castle direct from Ambleside, without having to navigate the narrow, twisty and busy network of lanes – or that too-small car park.  Next time we might very well do the same.

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