Keswick 2013

The Alley to Crandy NookFire!Street TheatreInvaders!Tiny Castle CragCatbells and Maiden Moor
Pitch and Putt22 years later...NappingWatching the sleepy cowsGrandma's cakeSkiddaw
WaitingLow cloudShelteringLakeland rainThe Keswick LaunchRigging
Amy & SamDistant boatLow cloud 2Coming closerDe-riggingHappy sailor!

Keswick 2013, a set on Flickr.

Another Cumbrian adventure in the North Lakes with the Family and In-Laws of Mine.

Mountain walking, Wayfarer sailing, Lake kayaking, ice-cream eating, Jennings drinking, game playing, jigsaw failing, sheep spotting, photograph taking, waterfall finding…

A great time was had by all.


Cumberland sausage wins protected status

lankyshire sent me this link to the BBC’s confirmation that the Cumberland sausage is now a protected species, ranking alongside the likes of Champagne, Parma ham and Greek feta cheese in having Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under EU law.

“Good job too”, says Son of Mine, pictured here tucking into a very delicious specimen recently at the Four in Hand in Keswick.

Tucking into a Cumberland sausage in the Four in Hand

Keswickian Quavers

The cottage we stayed in this time in Keswick was called Quaver Cottage.  A fitting name, I thought, for a musical person such as me.

Although modern, and a tad small for us (Children of Mine had to share a room – never again), it was definitely my kind of cottage.

It was:

(Most importantly) IN KESWICK.

RED. Red sofas. Red curtains.

SHEEP. A sheep mug. Sheep tablemats and coasters. A book on sheep breeds on the bookshelf, sandwiched between the Wainwrights. Sheep bedspreads in the twin room.

MUSIC. Musical references were all around, like these quavers attached to the kitchen window, and a framed tapestry of the cottage’s name with quavers all around it, made by the owner’s mother as a present.

Quaver Cottage

Son of Mine of course had a different take on the meaning of the name, exclaiming, “I could eat Quaver Cottage – it’s so lovely!”

Speaking of eating, this pheasant appeared in the garden within a few minutes of our arrival, but alas, didn’t make it to the table for that night’s supper!

Pheasant at the door of Quaver Cottage

Robins also were regular visitors, as were ducks, as the cottage garden backed on to the River Greta – a beautiful outlook, yet sadly one that led the cottage to be flooded in the devastating floods of November 2009.

These feathered friends even inspired Daughter of Mine to pick up a bird book momentarily…

The view from the garden changed by the minute, with the massive bulk of Skiddaw appearing and disappearing in the low cloud that the February skies offered for most of the week.

View from Quaver Cottage

Quaver Cottage is available to rent from Keswick Cottages – a helpful independent holiday cottage rental company who I have used several times now as they specialise in properties in and around Keswick. I expect I shall need their services again before too long.

Quaver Cottage


Honister Pass is one of my favourite Lakeland passes, linking Keswick to Buttermere, via the beautiful Borrowdale valley, then on to the village of Lorton where the road winds back to Keswick by way of the Whinlatter Pass, or continues to the market town of Cockermouth.

Last night saw me catching up on my reading pile – the March issue of Cumbria Life, which was waiting for me when I returned from Keswick two weeks ago and the newspapers and magazines that I habitually buy on a Thursday – The Times, the local paper and the Radio Times.

‘Owner of last slate mine dies in air crash.’

My attention was drawn to this small piece in The Times on Thursday 10 March, sadly reporting the death of Mark Weir, the owner of Honister Slate Mine on 9 March, whose helicopter had crashed on his way home from the mine.

It is clear from the tributes that are being posted on the Facebook page set up in his memory, as well as those on the websites of the various local newspapers, that he was an inspirational man with a passion and vision that breathed new life into the last working mine of its kind in England.

I last visited Honister in August 2009, stopping at the café at the mine for a much-needed cuppa, after climbing Haystacks from Buttermere with the Family and in-laws.

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No time to take a mine tour or climb Fleetwith Pike along the Via Ferrata on this occasion, but it was definitely on our wish list to do on a future visit to the Lakes.  We also needed to wait until Son of Mine was older and taller.

And with two under 10s in tow, there was no way Husband of Mine and I could plan that luxury break to Paradigm – the luxury self-catering properties run by Mark’s partner, Jan – with the chance to maybe experience a flight in the helicopter with Mark on his way to or from work at Honister.

As with much in life, the timing was all wrong.

I seem to remember from an interview I read, probably in one of the Cumbrian magazines I subscribe to or the local papers that I tend to buy when I’m up there, that Mark had ideas to create an underground theatre in the mine.  Now that would really have been right up my mountain, if you get my drift.

I didn’t know Mark Weir personally, but with an idea like that, then who knows, maybe an opportunity would have come my way to meet him.

The sad thing is that now I will never get the chance.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

The Family are all out in the garden, in the lovely sunshine (but biting wind). Children of Mine have been bribed encouraged to help with chores – washing the car, gardening – in return for a pocket money boost.

I am inside, on a mission to come up with a Plan for the Garden. And cook roast pork.

But I got sidetracked, reading blog entries for this week’s photo challenge: ‘Shadow’.  And the first one I clicked on – Gardening, Bumble bee and a Sunset Shadow – defined exactly why I wasn’t in the garden with the Family instead today – “80% of gardening is the equivalent of housework”.

I rest my case.

And so back to the photo challenge – The Shadow Family on the descent from High Rigg, east of Keswick. It’s the only photo of the 800 or so that I took that I’m actually in (I’m second from the right). Hope you like it.

The Shadow Family


‘Good things get better, bad get worse. Wait, I think I meant that in reverse.’ – Company

Things can go backwards, yes? Some of my favourite things are backwards – Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along – where the story is told in reverse chronological order and the opening episode of Series 3 of Red Dwarf set on a version of Earth where everything is reversed.

So this is the week I start a backwards blog project.

You see, I’ve just been up to the Lakes with the Family; the first time we’ve been up there in the true winter months. I thought it would be fun to blog whilst there, having taken with me no less than three cameras, a laptop, a iPod Touch and a mobile with the WordPress app installed.

I thought I could easily keep up with postaweek2011 this way. But understandably, I spent more time up the mountains than writing about them. My ideas of a daily blog became nothing more than scribbled (what is the digital equivalent of ‘scribbled’? ‘tapped’? ‘prodded’?) notes:

Sunday. Tried to get to Giants Hands. Daughter of Mine – bad ankle. Portinscale gift shop. Bought postcards. Photography by lake – Nicol End. Husband and Son of Mine went on to find geocache. Daughter of Mine rescued in car. Keswick Festival of Light in evening. Chips, curry sauce and pint of Jennings in front of The Sound of Music.

You get the gist. Not hugely entertaining. And not even accompanied by one of the 800+ photos I had taken as I had managed to forget the leads to connect the better of my two cameras to the laptop, and the ones shot on my phone were only really suitable for a quick Facebook update.

So here’s one for starters. Family of Mine atop High Rigg with views to Skiddaw and Blencathra.

So there may be blog entries to follow. Backwards. Memories of things that were.

Or are they things that might be?

Improvised musicals

I start this post with an apology.

To the group of 40 or so students from the University of Virginia who contacted me last year about a new project they were working on – an online musical on YouTube, that would be developed weekly with help from viewers’ comments and suggestions.

Sorry that I didn’t watch it when I was supposed to. In September.

My only defence is that I was still recovering from the after-effects of my involvement in last September’s 24-hour musical (which incidentally, turned out to be Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin), oh, and that they contacted me on what happened to be the eve of my birthday, so I’m sure there was something incredibly exciting going on. Not.

Anyway, only six months late, I tuned in. Of course, the whole audience participation thing is over, so I have no way of knowing whether any of my suggestions would have influenced the final piece.

Episode One of The Online Musical made me smile. In a good way, so I will be watching Episode 2, hopefully sooner than Christmas. I’m not going to get into a long review here, frankly I should have done this in September for it to count, but for the record, I enjoyed what I saw – a bunch of enthusiastic people (all noticeably younger than me) making a musical out of the idea that life really is a musical. Which is what I and many of my musical theatre friends actually believe should happen anyway.

Coming soon is the group’s next project, The Mini Musicals, a series of 10-15 minute musicals based on topics suggested by their audience – that could be you and me! Anyway, I will try to follow in a timely manner this Spring, and I wish them luck as the project unfolds…

… incidentally, I’m seeing Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the lovely Theatre by the Lake in Keswick at the weekend, so maybe I’ll pick up some ideas?!