To quote Ratty in full, ‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats — or with boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not’.
In my case, this postcard was the result of just messing about with photo editing software and apps. Just passing time, nothing special in mind other than messing about with a photograph taken a few years ago on a fairly dull March morning at Esthwaite Water, near Hawkshead in the Lake District.
The second day of our recent mini-break was spent at Grange-over-Sands.
We last visited Grange-over-Sands about 15 years ago and as expected, nothing has changed and we were pleased about that. The town has a sort of timeless charm and doesn’t need to change. That of course is spoken as a tourist; residents may or may not agree.
The only thing that should change is the name, Grange-over-Sands. It is a big misnomer and some have suggested it should change its name to Grange-over-Grass. Apparently the “over-Sands” suffix was added to Grange in the late 19th or early 20th century by the local vicar who was fed up with his post going to Grange in Borrowdale near Keswick. Since then, the river Kent has changed its course and the water (Morecambe Bay) and the sand is now a fair distance away. Instead of ‘Where’s Wally?’ it’s ‘Where’s the sand?’
There is a mile-long promenade but this is not a typical seaside resort promenade. This one is totally traffic-free and instead of shops and amusement arcades there are views across the bay on one side and informal gardens lovingly tended by local volunteers on the other side. We ‘Nordic-walked’ the whole length from the station and back with the gardens on one side and views over the bay to the other side.
The station building was designed mid-1860s and was tastefully restored to its former glory in the late 1990s. It is a delightful building. The light and shade through the glass canopy created this fascinating effect on the platform.
The train was about to leave for Manchester Airport, calling at such places as Carnforth, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan, Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly, all a far cry from sleepy little Grange.
Oh dear what can the matter be…?
What was the problem in the toilets which required hazard warning signs and hard hats? Clearly much more than just a dripping tap!
During our visit to Hilltop Farm (see rabbits, rabbits, rabbits…) we enjoyed looking round the garden and finding the many nooks and crannies to photograph. I saw this gate which attracted my attention but only when we returned home, and read the leaflet properly, did we realise this was Tom Kitten’s gate. I was intrigued by the similarity of the illustration, done by Beatrix Potter in 1907, and the gate as it is now, over 100 years later. Surely this couldn’t be the same gate? It looked in fairly good condition. Perhaps it was a more recent addition, based on that original illustration, just to satisfy the thousands of visitors, including many Japanese, who come each year. If it is the original gate, then surely the hinges, latch and wood must have been replaced many times.
I was reminded of the classic scene in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ in which Trigger claims that he’s had his road sweeper’s broom for 20 years. But then he adds that the broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. “How can it be the same bloody broom then?” asks Sid the café owner. Trigger produces a picture of him and his broom and asks: “what more proof do you need?”
So how can this be the same gate? Well see the original illustration and my photograph – what more proof do you need?
Make way for sweet May flowers. April has started true to form with showers most days this week. Rain, but not as much as in Seathwaite, Lake District. That is the wettest place in England and receives between two and three metres of rainfall each year. I took this photograph a while ago near Hawkshead, 30 miles or so from Seathwaite. The National Trust had thoughtfully provided umbrellas for visitors walking the short distance from the car park and ticket office to the entrance to Hill Top Farm. Short, but long enough to get drenched if caught in a Cumbrian shower.
It was a dull day but then the rain stopped and the sun made a brief appearance. Brief, and barely long enough to highlight the colour and shapes of these umbrellas for a quick photograph. It could almost be an art installation at the Tate; or being even more fanciful, perhaps it’s the parking area for those dropping into a meeting of the Mary Poppins Appreciation Society.
Do any get stolen or are they dutifully returned after each use? Is it someone’s job to count these at the end of the day? (not as easy as it sounds – try it if you have nothing better to do!
The first day of Lent, so it is appropriate to mention Lent lilies. Until recently I didn’t know that’s what daffodils are also called (thank you BBC Gardeners World). The native or wild daffodil is also known as the Lent lily because it generally comes into bloom and dies away between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
High on the list of places to visit in the Lake District is Dove Cottage, near Grasmere.
Dove Cottage was the home of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy from 1799 to 1808. He married Mary in 1802 and she and her sister moved into the cottage. Wordsworth’s intention was to have a time of ‘plain living but high thinking’. Three children arrived in four years so in a small cottage with four adults and three babies how ‘much plain living and high thinking’ was possible is anyone’s guess. He did however write much of his poetry during that period.
A tenuous link to ‘postcards’ is that in 1813 Wordsworth became postmaster and distributor of stamps for Westmorland at a salary of £400 a year. Postcards didn’t come along until many years after that but had they been around in Wordsworth’s time this is what he may have sent…Daffodils by Wordsworth
Little did he know that it would become one of the nation’s favourite poems.
The first of the month. Did you remember to say rabbits as soon as you got up? No neither did I. In fact, in over 800 firsts of the month in my lifetime I don’t think I ever said it! I recall being told about this strange superstition as a child, and it cropping up in the odd conversations, but that’s all. Anyway, enough rabbiting on. It is just a way of introducing this post about Hilltop Farm, the home of Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit.
We visited the farm in October 2016 and we could see why this provided so much inspiration for her tales of Peter Rabbit and friends, still enjoyed around the world today. When she died in 1943, she left Hill Top Farm to the National Trust, and it is now open to the public as a museum. However, for us her greatest legacy is the gift of 15 other farms to the National Trust which cover large areas of the Lake District which can be accessed and enjoyed by all.
In the garden it was easy to imaging Peter Rabbit enjoying a tasty snack of carrots until the sudden appearance of Mr McGregor.
National Trust Hill Top Farm