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

Spuds

Hello All

Since my return from inter-railing around Germany last autumn I have been craving the delicious potato pancakes that my cousin RP made. Perfect fodder for these cold days. Mouth already watering I quickly checked out the recipe. And away I went.

I confess the thought of hand grating numerous potatoes was off putting but modern technology came to the aid of this lazy cook.

Whizz…whizz and hey presto grated potatoes!

Egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning added, frying pan of delight do your stuff.

After several singed efforts and working in a smoke filled room while wafting the smoke alarm the pancakes were rewardingly delicious. I have not managed to replicate the wonderfulness of RPs latkes but with lashings of maple syrup they were pretty good and perfect pancake day practice. I will be re-visiting these little beauties for sure.

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

Three go to Kentmere

Hello All

Brrrrrr. Today has been chilly but with the insulation afforded by many layers of clothing and JF driving we three set off for a walk in Kentmere just a few miles north of the village of Staveley.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that the roads had been gritted as there were pockets of solid ice towards some of the verges. Parking near St Cuthbert’s Parish Church we donned our walking boots and set off up the road towards Hartrigg the highest farm in the valley. Now not being one who would want to spend Christmas – nor anytime really – in plaster we erred on the side of caution and made our way back to the church when snow started to fall, worryingly dusting and partially hiding the icy stretches on the path.

We arrived back at St Cuthbert’s in time to help carry pine branches into the little church for its seasonal window decorations. The smell of fresh pine was evocative of winter and a roaring fire. I was also wowed by the kneelers. Not hidden away below the pews as usual but proudly displayed. How fab!

This was only one half of them, sadly my photography skills let the other half down. Sorreeee.

The church apparently dates in part from 1691 but the amazing yew in the circular walled burial ground is thought to be around 1000 years old and suggests that this was a much earlier place of worship.

I had to give this yew a gentle touch of homage. Weird tree-hugger that I am. Looking from the other side of this magnificent ancient tree the view towards the distant hills is snowily seasonal.

Within St Cuthbert’s is also a plaque to the memory of Bernard Gilpin ‘the Apostle of the North’ who was born in 1517 at nearby Kentmere Hall. Gilpin was a famous preacher in the time of Henry VIII and a leading churchman in the troubled times of Mary Tudor. He gained his rather magnificent ‘title’ for his preaching in the wild lands of the north. Let me reassure you we are no longer that wild … we have Michelin starred restaurants and everything, honest. Gilpin died when he was run over by and ox and cart in Durham market-place on 4 March 1583. Perhaps that was a tad wild.

What a treat St Cuthbert’s was. A little welcoming sanctuary especially on a very cold day.

Kentmere looks like a fabulous walk so can’t wait to come back in warmer (i.e. no ice) weather.

In the meantime I am happily sitting de-frosting with a pot of tea and comforting assortment of biscuits. Life is good.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Shanks’ Pony – Hawkshead (1)

Hello All

What do we have here?

Walking boots (pristine), walking stick and small version backpack? Could this mean someone is getting up from their ever spreading posterior and going outdoors, the proper outdoors with fields, hills and stuff? As you can see I thought I had better capture this moment in case the like is never seen again. But after yesterday’s wonderful excursion I am sure it will be the first such outing of many. You at the back I can hear you guffawing!

Wednesday started well.

No rain, no wind and something I think might have been warmth. Perfect walking weather here in Cumbria! Wonders will never cease. My friends J and JF have kindly adopted me into their small but perfectly formed walking sorority. Discreetly ignoring the risk that they would see snails outstrip us they had come up with a walk (about 4.5 miles…yes miles!) around the village of Hawkshead. Sadly JF could not make this one but J armed with her “Dry Stone Walling Association Cumbria Branch Hawkshead Walling Walk” (nothing like a snappy title) pamphlet led her walking novice on a fantastic trail capturing not only the diversity of dry stone walling (with walls that could spin more yarns than you could shake a slab of slate at) but also the social history of the area illustrated by the buildings along the way. In case you were wondering yes there is a church but you will have to wait for that particular delight.

Let’s kick off with how to get there. As you know I usually like bussing it, yesterday I was spoilt with a lift. BUT if you want to go by bus and I will certainly be testing this out the 505 Stagecoach Bus is the one for you. It leaves from Stand C at Kendal Bus Station HOWEVER it is a blink and you missed it sort of service from Kendal so you may have to travel via Windermere using the super-bus 555 to get yourself to and from Windermere Station and join the 505 there were the service is much more frequent (roughly every two hours). By car from Kendal simply follow signs for Windermere then on to Ambleside but before entering Ambleside proper turn left following signs for Langdale then look for left turn signposted Hawkshead…keep going you can’t miss it. Too vague for drivers? Bus times can be found on the Cumbria County Council’s website.

Time to get cracking. Having arrived at Hawkshead village J took a little detour to the National Trust shop and for a £5 refundable deposit picked up a key…all will be revealed in a little while. Read on.

Off we set down Red Lion Yard. Heralded in the aforementioned pamphlet as having ‘a wealth of craftmanship’ this little cobbled yard did not disappoint. From the local slates used for the outside steps to the old granary:

To the single slate lintel shielding the porch:

And the beams holding the roofing above the first floor entrance:

As we discovered throughout this walk the local people were and are artisans skilled at using a readily obtained resource, stone.

Along the winding paths are contrasting stone walling styles – sawn slate to the right of the path and natural stone to the left:

Flag fences grown into an ash tree where once perhaps in the 14th and 15th centuries monks from Furness Abbey may have used the walls to form a boundary between arable land and an important pathway:

Hedges laid atop the flag fences:

And clever interlinking of the large slabs where perhaps recent expert hands have repaired the fencing:

One site I was keen to see was at Colthouse, a hamlet just north of Hawkshead. The simple Quaker Meeting House built sometime around 1688-9 enjoyed by Wordsworth and visited by Beatrix Potter remains an active Quaker meeting place and is a reminder of the importance of this region in the birth and spread of The Friends’ quiet pacifist beliefs.

What about the key? A little way yet to go…keep reading.

Now this is a wow of a gate, to me anyhoo:

Created at a width perfect for horses and carts rather than tractors the stone gate stoups (that was a new word for me) have holes where the gate poles can be moved to open the gate. Notice the holes in the ends of the wooden poles? These are for pegs to prevent accidental slide-idge. Clever, eh?

Goodness actual sunshine is creeping into this photograph….. Cumbrians and those that have visited this beautiful county will know that it is a sight to be treasured. Time to bask and enjoy a cuppa. J and I reached Outgate Inn and parked ourselves in a pin fold – looking not unlike the stray sheep that were kept there until their owners collected them , baaaaah. After a deal of putting the world to rights we re-engaged with our surroundings (the best way to put the world to rights I think we agreed) and I tootled to capture further use of stone in the local landscape in one of my favourite buildings, a bus shelter!

A bus shelter with its own water pump. Mmmm. Moving on.

J’s pamphlet guided us to a ‘permissive path’ (snigger) running just above the road. This took us past small quarries, all this stone had to come from somewhere, a vertical wall joint perhaps marking an ownership boundary or two different wall building contracts and a wonderful single span slate bridge with a flag bounded kissing gate.

As to that key? Your patience is rewarded we arrived at our lunch pack stop, the Courthouse.

This snug little crow-stepped gabled building is the gatehouse and all that remains of Hawkshead Hall. The Gatehouse once used as a court dates from the 15th century. And up these steps and with the use of the much mentioned key…

We got a look inside.

We parked ourselves and our sandwich boxes by the old fireplace. It’s dog-tooth design has led historians to believe it is older than the building perhaps even 13th century.

It appears graffiti is nothing new. Tut.

Altered and restored in the 1800s it is hard to escape the botch made to the main window.

But what an atmospheric and historic place to eat your sarnies in. Cheese and tomato if you are interested.

Outside the old gateway gives a hint of the entrance to the original hall courtyard:

What a delight. And look. No people!

Well done J. Bit hard to top that but we did try. Continuing across the fields we arrived at almost our final destination the graveyard (gulp) of Hawkshead Parish Church, St Michael’s.

Please note flag fencing to the left. Thank you.

Brooding landscape or what?! Clouds rolling in over hills, covering sun, shielding the land with its grey-green hues. That’s more like it.

But what a sturdy little church and inside (don’t look too long and hard at the pointing outside is all I will say) a box of wonders.

Trompe l’oeil piers and arches painted in 1680 to give a zig-zag and corbel effect. Also you can just glimpse the painted ‘Sentance of scripture’ .

The tomb of Archbishop Sandys parents (c1578) on which the learned Pevsner (he of architecture guidebook fame) comments that we should notice the remnants of colour on the face of the ‘comical lion’. Bloomin’ cheek, nothing wrong with a bit of lippy!

The Hardman window. And of course an array of

Hand-crafted kneelers. Sadly I managed to delete the picture of the fabulous communion rail kneeler in St James’ chapel which was adorned with Viking symbols as a reminder that Hawkshead (Haukr saetr – Haukr’s summer pasture) had Norse origins. Worse still I hadn’t noticed that many of the kneeler designs are of walking gear such as rucksacks, boots and water bottles…. I am sorry readers I have failed you. Perhaps I can redeem myself with this last little gem from St Michael’s.

This chest was made in 1603 from a solid beam to house the parish records although it measures almost 6 feet in length the depository inside is only 3 feet which makes the chest extremely heavy to lift and remove…in case you had any plans ….

Busy old Archbishop Edwin Sandys – once prisoner in the Tower under Queen Mary, then escaped Protestant reformer in Antwerp where he watched his wife and infant son die of plague but finally made Archbishop of York by Queen Elizabeth I – in 1585 also founded Hawkshead Grammar School (now a museum). A bonny little school with a bonny little doorway.

What a lovely note on which to finish our walk. Boots suitably muddied and me vindicated in the cost of their purchase (still makes me break out in a cold sweat) we returned to Kendal happy with a day spent in the fresh air, learning more than we ever knew about our amazing county.

Thank you J for your research and forethought in making this a brilliant walk. I raise a cup of Earl Grey to there being many more.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Going out with a bang

Hello All

How are you? Well I hope. I am now home again in snuggly little Kendal all safe and sound. Back to being a country mouse.

But yowzerrs did I save the best to last! Cologne was fabulous and being able to enjoy it with my cousin R’i and her family made it extra super.

One of the downsides of travelling solo is evening meals so it has been lovely when visiting both Prenzlau and Cologne to have cousins who have gone out with me and taken me to places for dinner. Vielen Danke!

On Friday night in Cologne R’i and W’g took me to a beautiful riverside restaurant for an al fresco supper. Just the sort of place I love where you can people watch and chat. Afterwards full with a hearty German meal – needless to say I have loved the food here – and a glass of Kolsch we tootled off for a floodlit walk of Cologne. Amazingly beautiful.

But then … I was diverted into another world….a Jazz Cafe! Flippin’ Heck it was hilarious and brilliant and I don’t think I stopped laughing all the time we were in there.

Into the tiniest space was crammed a good proportion of Cologne (or so it seemed), wedged on balconies, squidging around the bar, packed up to the minuscule stage. Atmosphere in heaps and then to crown it all was a live band playing traditional Orleans jazz and blues. All this and another glass of Kolsch. What more could a girl (erm mature lady) want? Absolutely nothing.

Photos cannot fully convey the sweaty loud joyfulness of it all. These are the best I could do.

That’s what I call a Friday night. A good time definitely had by all.

Jump change!

Saturday saw me polishing up my halo and re-asserting my blue-stocking credentials. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) and Romisch-Germanisches Museum here I come.

Cologne Cathedral has such significance to residents and visitors alike. As the trains coming into Cologne station pass right beneath its towering spires travellers crowd the windows to get that first glimpse of her and when they do they know they are home. It is difficult to find suitable adjectives but Cologne Cathedral surpasses anything I have seen. It is also certainly a triumph of Long Now thinking as it was begun in the mid 1200s, worked on until the late 1400s and then completed to the original design in the 1800s.

And amidst the grandeur are the small details created with love and pride.

It was magnificent and I needed to have frequent little sit-downs just to absorb as much of it as possible. And before you ask I did not go up the 533 steps into one of the spires! I did that in my twenties so no need to do it again…that’s my excuse I am sticking to it.

From Gothic to Roman in a couple of steps (if you have extremely long legs) as the Roman Museum is right next door to the Cathedral. The museum is built on the site of a Roman villa and was designed around it’s famous centre-piece the Dionysus Mosaic. In addition to the mosaic it has fabulous displays of Roman glassware:

And these superbly exhibited ‘Guardians of the Tombs’

I was in my Roman seventh heaven.

A happy but sad to go family afternoon and evening completed my fabulous stay in Cologne. Time for bed and the final train journey from Cologne to Amsterdam to catch the ferry home.

After bobbing about on the choppy waters of the North Sea I arrived safely in Blighty. I have had the most marvellous few weeks in Germany. It has fulfilled and exceeded expectations.

I hope you have enjoyed travelling along with me.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

Heimat

Hello All

Back in the room after a fabulous few days getting acquainted with a family I had never before met. I would like to whole-heartedly thank all my German cousins (1st and 2nd!) for their help in making my stay in my father’s homeland truly special. BIG thanks to cousin K-D who made it possible to find key places in my father’s life which I would never have found alone, for making me feel at home and also for the mercy dash to pick up my connecting train when the first was delayed. Phew! And none of this would have happened without the Cologne and Bavarian cousins doing a lot of emailing and phoning. Well done C and R. You are all stars.

I still need to digest my emotions but to give you a flavour of what I found here are some highlights.

The building in Prenzlau where my father was born was once a Dominican Monastery and is now a museum. I found this very satisfying as not only do I love museums (you may have noticed) but it also means that should No1 Son and No1 Daughter ever follow in my footsteps it will still be here. What a lovely museum, we spent a little while pootling around (think I may have brought the English concept of a pootle with me) looking at the history of Prenzlau. Especially pleasing was the model of Prenzlau in 1935, this would have been just how my father would have known it.

Prenzlau is in a beautiful location on the shores of the Uckersee. Coming from the English Lake District this felt like familiar territory.

After a lunch in the Autumn sunshine enjoying this wonderful view we travelled the few miles to the village where my father learnt his trade as a blacksmith and his family lived.

Sadly the forge is derelict now, like so many old buildings in what was the DDR left empty to fall in to disrepair.

But there are beautiful houses and lovely homes in the village and K-D had arranged for me to meet some family from my Oma’s side who still live in Klein Sperrenwalde along with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Sharing coffee and cake with them was very special (oh to have proper cheesecake…delicious). Despite having no common language – Russian was the second language taught in schools until re-unification – we had a good laugh.

An early evening stroll round the village was magical. The stories about the buildings and people being thankfully translated by RW K-Ds son who had joined us. A gem!

What a thoroughly lovely bunch. I have a lot of tales and photos to share with my children when I get to my Heimat.

I will take away with me two powerful things: the kindness and thoughtfulness of my father’s family; and the staggering beauty of this landscape. I couldn’t capture the breadth of the horizons. This is a poor attempt.

It is a huge land where trees abound, herds if deer graze the fringes of that woodland and flocks of cranes fly from the fields as trains pass. It’s people and it’s countryside are amazing. Leaving was difficult.

Now before I come over all emotional I will leave you with this crazy character from the cloisters at the monastery to make you smile.

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx