Short walks and flying visits

Hello All

Funny little week this one with a veritable variety of small delights. The weather and remnants of the ever-lasting flu bug has limited my walking recently. With yet another forecast of f-f-f-f-reeezing high winds accompanied by a deluge (think BBC Weather marks it with charming two raindrops under a too fluffy cloud, its a deluge to me) the intrepid three J, JF and me decided that perhaps meeting for a cuppa would be enough for this week’s walk day. But we are not intrepid for nothing and decided on a short walk before the luxury of a warm coffee shop.

When I say short I mean short. Today’s walk was along one side of Kendal’s main shopping street Stricklandgate. For a Kendal walk we of course turned to Mr Nicholls and in this instance his Exploration No.1 Around Stricklandgate. To reduce the need to refer to Arthur Nicholls’ book in the everlasting downpour I made a quick (ie not very good) sketch of our half-a-street walk with all the highlights jotted down which I could preserve in a waterproof ‘envelope’.

For such a diminutive amble Stricklandgate (one half) packs a historical punch. Kendal Town Hall is presently being restored after the damage wrought by Storm Desmond (2016) so a little interior shot is all I have to give to an idea of its grandeur.

Passing up the opportunity to burst Maria-like into song we girded ourselves for a walk on the wild side of Cumbrian weather (I begin to wonder if there is any other type!).

We quickly trotted to the top of Finkle Street.

There has been much conjecture about the name Finkle. I like the old Kendalian story that it is from the Norse word meaning elbow as it does have a dog-leg as you walk downbank. My extensive research (I Googled it) is not entirely supportive of this theory and whatever you do don’t look up the definition of ‘finkle’ in the urban dictionary …. you have been warned.

Moving on. What has always intrigued me is the fact that Stricklandgate was lined with buildings on both sides (remember we are only looking at one half…) and the Pump Inn which lay across the top of Finkle Street fascinated me. I was imagining something grand like the Pump Rooms in Bath but the reality appears to have been a far cry from this. The fact that a fish market ran down Finkle Street behind it should have given me a clue. We are lucky that there are archive photographs of the Pump Inn. Here is my representation of one of them. I am afraid as it was all grey even my grey-heavy palette gave up.

Doesn’t that fish-wife look familiar?!

Tootling on we wistfully wandered on past Farrers Tea and Coffee. Ahhhh the smell of freshly roasted coffee that comes from this old coffee house is amazing. If you are up this way it is a must to visit Farrers with its wobbly timber floors and stairways. The coffee and tea are tasty as are all the home baked treats. You can also pick up Farrers’ goodies to take home. The building is fronted by the iron doorway which was put in when the building was refronted in the 18th century. Prior to this Farrers was a hostelry called the Waggon and Horses Inn.

Farrers had whetted our appetites but we carried on paying our respects to Kendal’s historic past: the buildings that survive – like the Working Men’s Institute and Globe Inn – and those long gone – like the Corn Market Hall with its grim prison named the Black Hole underneath. Further down the road (but not much further) we gave a nod to the old yards and burgage plots that now lie long forgotten under the modern Westmorland Shopping Centre which at least has hung on to our old County name.

Almost at our destination we skirted Blackhall Yard which originally housed a 16th century mansion for the first mayor of Kendal Henry Wilson and later became Hodgson’s Black Hall Brush Factory. There is a replica of the hog with bristles sign still hanging near the yard but one of the original wooden hogs can be seen at the Museum of Lakeland Life at Abbot Hall.

Finally Charlies and that long (er-hum) awaited cuppa but before we could enjoy the delights of an Earl Grey tea or three there was one last historic footnote. Charlies cafe is sited in the old house that Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have stayed in on his retreat from Derby in 1745 and is where he was cared for by the Misses Thompson (make of that what you will). Ironically the house is said to have provided the same bed to the Bonnie Prince’s pursuer the Duke of Cumberland the very next night. Hope they changed the sheets … were there sheets…?

Amazing what a short walk can reveal. The same is true for a flying visit.

Yesterday I was in Carlisle to meet up with friends at Tullie House museum. I love this museum and the fact that I picked up a season ticket for £6.50 on my last trip has helped me appreciate it even more.

Having had a super catch up and lunch in the museum cafe I enjoyed an hour looking at the Percy Kelly retrospective. The work of this amazing artist is right up my street. Driven to draw everyday he generally had a linear and angular style with all those clean lined edges I find so satisfying. In addition to the drawings, paintings and prints I discovered textile prints and multi-media examples of his work. All wonderful but for me the most beautiful exhibits are his letters. He was an inveterate letter writer writing in a clear copperplate hand around the drawings he incorporated into his correspondence. His letters are erudite and incredibly illustrated how fortunate were his friends to receive them. No wonder so many survive they must have been treasured. If you have a chance to see this exhibition (which I hear is now staying in Tullie House until mid-February) I would thoroughly recommend going.

Understandably no photos were allowed of the Percy Kelly exhibition however elsewhere in Tullie House you are generally allowed to take snaps and I grabbed one of Tullie House’s latest acquisition, Driggsby.

Sadly Driggsby a rare Fin Whale was found in 2014 by a dog walker at Drigg in West Cumbria. The young whale had already perished but has been kept in the county to illustrate the wonderful sea life we have around our shores and to act as a reminder to care for the environment that sustains these amazing creatures.

Lest I leave you on a sad note here is something that made me smile. Having completed our walk down Stricklandgate J, JF and myself trotted into Kendal Library and popped our heads into the colourful children’s library where we were bowled over by our talented friend AW’s fabulous display.

Hope her hard work leaves you smiling too.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heights, Hats and New Year

Hello All

Hope its not too late to wish you all HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! What is the protocol? I usually go with wishing Happy New Year to people I have not seen – since hearing the fading strains of Auld Lang Syne – until the end of January. What do you do?

Protocols aside a bit of housekeeping is needed on this here blog. I don’t feel I have finished 2017 off properly as I was smitten by a fluey bug at the tail end of the Christmas festivities and didn’t complete a post for the last walk of the old year. It was a Bussing It walk and everything!!! So here goes.

Somewhere in the mists of time … December 2017! …. J unleashed our first walk from Robert Swain’s “55 555 Walks” Bolton Le Sands to Lancaster. For me it is a particular pleasure to combine public transport with a walk, no worries about driving, parking, individually polluting the universe … that sort of thing. But little did I know as we set off that by the end of the day I would be facing one of my greatest fears. Eeek.

Innocently we tootled off on a very pleasant stroll through the Lancashire countryside chuckling at the punishments meted out to ne’er do wells of yesteryore.

The stocks at Slyne give a hint of a raucous past in this now ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ little village. Oh how I was chuckling … then.

The next stretch of the walk took us part-way along the Lancaster canal. My favourite: a really flat walk.

Although major road building – the Bay Gateway: Heysham to M6 link if you wanted to know – left us with a rather strange detour (not in Swain’s book of course) serpentining our way around the pillars of the new four-lane highway rumbling above us before entering the outskirts of Lancaster through a modern housing estate. Different from the Lakeland fells and cottages for sure.

And then as we walked through Lancaster’s Ryelands Park … gulp … the realisation that the walk took us across the Lune and that this would only be managed by bridge (swimming across would be pretty radical). Those of you that followed my travels in Germany will recall an annoying vertigo that decided to visit me while I was away. The thought of a scary bridge on the horizon brought that memory back.

J being the good friend she is suggested we walk to a much less high rise footbridge. But that meant skipping some of the walk so I girded my loins and up and over Lancaster’s Carlisle (foot and rail) Bridge we went. And do you know what? despite my qualms, fear of white knuckles, passing out part way (I think that was J’s fear) it was … drum roll please …. ok. I know what an anti-climax. It really was alright.

It was worth it too as the quays along this bank of the Lune, a salt marsh tidal river, are quaint and full of architectural interest. They also end in a good end stop at the oldest pub in Lancaster. The Three Mariners is not only a grade II listed building steeped in 500 years of history – even holding prisoners in its cellar when Lancaster Castle’s dungeons were overflowing – it also serves a fine pot of tea which comes with a jug of fresh milk and a spare pot of hot water. Tea heaven. Oh yes its also a paranormal haunt!

A quick hop across the road and we were back on the 555 Stagecoach bus home. A good way to end the walking year.

As to 2018? No walks yet. Recuperating from fluey-virus thing has grounded me a wee bit. Although now the hacking cough has subsided I am rather enjoying the snug loveliness of homely pursuits and a couple of thoughtful Christmas presents especially.

In the last few years my children have introduced new folks to our teeny tiny family. Their wonderful partners are extremely welcome additions and already know me well enough to supply fodder for my New Year needs.

A selection of beautiful wools from No 1 Son’s No 1, RS

From which one ball today started a cable-knitted journey to becoming a hat:

The free pattern from Margo Knits can be found here. Big thanks RS: I will soon have a warm hat so I can again embrace walks in my chilly county.

Thanks to No 1 Daughter’s No 1 RP I am happily putting up my feet and losing myself in an era that I love

Fabulous reading especially now the thumping head has receded. Inspired pressie.

On those happy and thankful notes I will love and leave you.

May 2018 bring you everything you need.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx