Ambleside Sports will not go ahead this summer due to uncertainty around the lifting of Covid restrictions.
The biggest and oldest of the traditional Lakeland sporting events, the Ambleside Sports is usually held on the last Thursday of July and attracts crowds of thousands. It was cancelled last year because of the pandemic.
The organising committee had hoped to stage an event of some sort this summer, but they have decided with deep regret to abandon this year’s plans and put all their efforts into making the 2022 event the biggest and best ever.
“It is with really heavy hearts that we reached this decision,” said president Mr Jak Hirst. “We are all bitterly disappointed, and we know that our competitors in the many arenas, and our trading partners, will be disappointed too. But there is still too much uncertainty about what the summer holds, and it is a burden too great for a group of volunteers.”
The committee made their decision after considering many health and safety issues, including any continuing requirement for social distancing which might be announced, the enormous task of tracking and tracing many thousands of potential visitors, and the need for many extra volunteers to keep people moving safely through the gates and around the showfield.
They also learned that nearly all the local shows, all of them smaller and potentially more manageable than Ambleside, due to be held before the end of July, had already been called off.
“It is a question of reality outweighing the heartstrings,” said committee member Robin Dean. “We desperately wanted to put on an event to raise spirits and allow people to have some fun after the awfulness of the pandemic, but it’s just too soon for us to be sure that we could stage a perfectly safe event which was also enjoyable.”
The organising team are now hoping that new volunteers will step forward to join the committee and plan for next year’s event. The Sports includes wrestling, track cycling, hound trailing, track running and fell-running, and always features a very popular children’s sports competition.
Two Cumbrian businesswomen are joining forces to provide a complete package of help for local organisations and companies.
Eileen Jones at Cumbria PR and Jen Braithwaite at JB Consulting are merging to meet demand as businesses try to recover from the pandemic lockdown.
They will retain the two individual business titles, and still offer bespoke services to clients as needed, but will operate together as JB Cumbria.
Ambleside-based Eileen set up Cumbria PR ten years ago and has worked for a range of tourism and heritage organisations including William Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount, the Heaton Cooper Studio and Gallery and Studio in Grasmere, Zeffirellis cinemas and restaurants in Ambleside, and the award-winning Cedar Manor hotel at Windermere. She ran the public relations and news service for the environmental campaigning project, Windermere Reflections.
A former journalist and university lecturer, as course leader for degrees in both Public Relations and Journalism at the University of Huddersfield, she’s the author of the recently published book How parkrun changed our lives.
Windermere-based Jen set up JB Consulting two years ago after working for a global people-development organisation for ten years. She’s a specialist in personal and business development training and support, with wide experience in wellbeing, sales and marketing. She runs inset training for schools, bespoke wellbeing support and provides a full suite of organisational and strategic support to help businesses improve productivity and potential, while operating sustainably. She’s also an Advisor for the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce’s Business Growth Hub, providing support to many Cumbrian businesses.
The two met ten years ago when they organised the Lakeland Cake of the Year competition, raising money for the charity Alice’s Escapes. They plan to revive the contest this summer, to showcase their clients and fundraise for Teenage Cancer Trust.
Eileen said: “Businesses have much more complex needs today than they did a year ago. It’s no longer just about promotion and profile-raising; in many cases they will have to operate in a very different way. Joining forces with JB Consulting also means that we can offer a full PR and marketing service.
“Jen is a remarkable young woman with a very personable approach to helping businesses. Together we will be able to provide a comprehensive PR, marketing and business development service.”
Jen said: “I’m thrilled to be joining forces with Eileen. Together we can offer a fully rounded service to our clients old and new. After the past year or so we as businesses need to be even more agile to survive. The support of JB Cumbria will enable our clients to move forward and not only survive, but thrive.
“Eileen has been my mentor, role model and confidante for many years – to partner with her in more formal ways is a dream come true. I can’t wait to get going and really give our clients what they need.”
An Ambleside woman will set off from home on Saturday (March 20) and walk all the way around Windermere for charity.
Liz Stobbart of Greenbank Road will tackle the 26-mile marathon to raise money for St John’s Hospice, Lancaster.
Gardener Liz and her partner Rob Powley have been training by walking the dog a little further than usual “and getting a few miles from home”.
Liz, a member of the Ambleside Sports organising committee, has never done such a distance before. “Every year when the (Brathay Windermere) marathon is on, I say I would love to do it, and never get on with it,” she said.
“Then I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who had done it on his birthday, so it set me thinking again and I said, right, I will do it.”
Liz chose to do the challenge this weekend while the roads are still quiet, before visitors are allowed back to the Lake District, as the Newby Bridge section of the route can be danerously busy with traffic.
She and Rob will set off from their house heading to Hawkshead, then down to Newby Bridge, and back up via Bowness and Troutbeck Bridge to Ambleside. They reckon the 26 miles will take them around nine or ten hours.
After deciding to get sponsored for her challenge, Liz chose the St John’s Hospice in Lancaster. “It’s local, and living in such small villages I think we all know someone they have helped, and they need all the support they can get. They get 30% from the NHS and they have to find the other 70% themselves from fundraising. It’s tough.”
She added: “Members of the Ambleside Sports team have been very supportive. We’re all looking forward to being back in action this summer. I love the whole event, helping to set up and take down the equipment.”
Runners are going to celebrate the return to organised training with a new event based at Fell Foot park at Windermere: We’re Back!
The backwards-running challenge will take place on Easter Thursday, April 1, and is organised by the local run coaching and events team, Jogging Pals.
This will be a Covid-secure event, with participants asked to tackle the route – around the meadow at Fell Foot – in groups of no more than two at a time.
From March 29 outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.
Organiser Wayne Singleton said that he was thrilled to be offering a chance for runners to challenge themselves again, before the return later this year of his Run/Steam/Run events on the Ullswater Steamer and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.
Last year Wayne’s team had to cancel at the last minute a planned challenge on Wansfell , Ambleside, when the first lockdown came into place. The Wansfell Two-Step was due to see pairs of runners tackle the fell (uphill only) with legs tied together.
“We still can’t consider that event because of the need for social distancing,” said Wayne. “But we think a lot of people will enjoy a backwards run around the meadow at Fell Foot.”
The procedure is simple: from 10 am when the car par at Fell Foot opens, runners are asked to make their challenge at any time that morning. There will be no prizes for the fastest finishers, but runners are asked to make sure that someone photographs their efforts, and uploads those pictures onto the Jogging Pals facebook page. A winner will be chosen at random – a name from a hat – to win the prize, a signed copy of the new book about parkrun, How parkrun changed our lives, in which Fell Foot is featured.
Only people living in the locality, who are permitted to drive to Fell Foot for exercise, are allowed to take part, due to Government restrictions.
Nigel Holmes, above, a well-known medal winning retro runner from Manchester said: “Running backwards is great fun. If I lived nearby I would definitely love to have a go at this.”
Lucy Tickle, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer for the National Trust which owns Fell Foot said: “This is such a fun challenge. We have missed seeing our parkrunners here, and it will be lovely to see people going the other way around the meadow.”
A team of runners will cover 330 miles in a relay from Windermere to London to celebrate parkrun.
The relay will start at Fell Foot park at 9am on Friday (March 19) and will end seven days later in the original home of parkrun, Bushy Park.
The baton – a copy of a new book about parkrun – will be presented there to the founder, Paul Sinton-Hewitt.
The event is being staged according to current safety guidelines, with each leg being tackled by runners in their own home area, and only one or two on each leg.
It has been organised by the book’s author, Eileen Jones, with a team of parkrunning heroes in each region through which the journey passes.
“It was a sudden – maybe crazy – idea to launch the book as we couldn’t do anything the traditional way,” said Eileen. “But the moment I put out a call on social media, I knew it was going to happen. The response has been overwhelming. So many parkrunners are missing their weekly fix, and wanted to be involved. We had to turn down many because they didn’t live near enough to the route. And all of them say that they are excited to be part of something bigger again.”
Eileen’s team comprises Simon Harrop, Eve Taylor, Phil Sutcliffe, Sue Martin, Jenny McBain and Chris Kitchener, each taking charge of a region as the book heads south, following a line created by map-lover Liz Wakelin. Between them they have recruited 90 runners of all ages and abilities.
The regional sections are:
Day 1 (March 19): Fell Foot to Lancaster
Day 2 (March 20): Lancaster to Worsley Woods
Day 3 (March 21): Worsley Woods to Hanley Park, Stoke
Day 4 (March 22): Hanley Park to Lichfield cathedral
Day 5 (March 23): Lichfield cathedral to Warwick
Day 6 (March 24): Warwick to Aylesbury
Day 7 (March 25): Aylesbury to Bushy Park
“This would have been a logistical challenge even in normal times, but they have all worked so hard to make it happen,” Eileen said. “It says so much about the mutually-supportive ethos of parkrun, and a tremendous can-do attitude. It is our gesture of thanks to Paul Sinton-Hewitt whose little idea for a Saturday morning run with friends turned into a global phenomenon that’s had such an impact on so many lives.”
How parkrun changed our lives (https://gritstonecoop.co.uk/books/how-parkrun-changed-our-lives/) details the health and social benefits of the weekly 5k events for runners, joggers and walkers. Some seven million people around the world have signed up to take part, and were still registering during the past year when the pandemic forced the events to cancel. It’s hoped events will start again in England on June 5.
The book also has interviews with many people who say that their lives have been changed for the better, and who talk of the joy that parkrun has brought them. There’s a number of parkrunning clerics discussing whether parkrun is a new religion, a blind man who has run from England to Wales and back, a couple who got married during a parkrun, and the British doctor who holds the USA female parkrun record.
The most important part of any book is the cover. No matter how terrifying the thriller, how marvellous the mystery, the reader has to be invited in first of all.
A new book about the world’s favourite Saturday morning pastime, parkrun, has just been published and the cover photo is the talk of the running world.
It’s a striking picture, loosely based on the famous evolution of mankind image, featuring four runners on a beach below sand-dunes.
But look again. There’s actually just two runners, twice, husband and wife team Laura and Dave McGuigan close to the route of one of their favourite parkruns at Woolacombe Dunes in Devon.
And the photographer is…Laura.
She’s developed a style that she calls bespoke movement imagery, which combines multi-exposure and chronophotography techniques, and has applied it so far to a series of joyfully presented books about not just running but moving, happily, freely and playfully.
Laura and Dave have developed a philosophy of living based on everyday adventure, and have been encouraging us all to revert to more child-like ways of enjoying the outdoors.
They call it an adventure into the world of natural human movement, encouraging readers to “marvel at the sense of joy and contentment you can attain simply by moving your body in the ways it was made to move, in settings it was made to move in”.
There’s a new website, http://everydayadventurous.com/ through which Laura and Dave aim to encourage anyone who loves to spend time moving around outdoors in nature to rethink and redesign their lives, so they can get out more and make the absolute most of it.
Laura is currently putting the finishing touches to a series of video tutorials to show others how to make pictures like hers and she’ll be inviting people to send in their own photos from which she will create bespoke works of movement art just for them.
Meanwhile, the four books she and Dave producedin the Adventures For Adults serieshave been combined intoMove Forever to provide an entire year of guided movement adventures. There’s more than 250 images to inspire readers to get out and get moving more adventurously; all you’ll need to do, they say, is keep the momentum going once you’re out there.
The cover for How parkrun changed our lives was a collaborative effort, beginning with an idea from David Burnip, the son of the book’s author Eileen Jones. His picture was used as the basis for Laura’s photo, which in turn was created into the stunning book cover by designer Ellen Longhorn.
A record-breaking schoolboy has received an apology from the author of a new book about parkrun.
James Hickman, 11, who goes to St John the Baptist primary school in Colwick near Nottingham, was just nine and a half when he reached the astonishing milestone of completing 250 parkruns, back in 2019.
He had tackled the first of the globally-popular 5k weekly events when he was just four and a half, running with dad Iain.
But a new book about parkrun * has overlooked James’ achievement. Writer Eileen Jones said: “While researching the book I came across Dexter Pattison and his family. He was only ten when he got to 250 parkuns three years ago. Since the book went to press I’ve learned that his record has since been broken by James. It’s astonishing what youngsters can achieve when they are determined. But even more important, it proves what a fantastic event parkrun is for families to do something together, that they can all celebrate.”
Children under 11 have to run within arms length of a “responsible adult” and proud dad Iain said: “Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week because of the family aspect of parkrun.”
James joined the 250 club on May 24, 2019 at Valentines parkrun in north-east London. “We chose Valentines to gift the occasion,” said Iain. “I was working in London that weekend too, and it meant we could collect the letter V.”
James has now run 294 parkruns, and while the Colwick course is his home event, he has visited 81 different venues. “And he’s volunteered 62 times as well; that’s the lifeblood of parkrun,” said Iain.
Eileen said: “It’s another wonderful story about the impact that parkrun has on people’s lives. I met so many who walk, jog, run or volunteer and they talk about the joy it brought them, and how desperate they are to have parkrun back in their lives.”
A Cumbrian business trio is finding an audience across the world for their efforts to brighten the gloom of lockdown.
Neil Bowness, Lisa Joyce and Wayne Singleton are now podcasting on a regular basis under the label The Enthusiasts.
The three, who met a few years ago on a Lancaster University business development course, enthuse about anything…from beards to tinsel to cardboard. And what began as a light-hearted chat session is becoming a global favourite.
“We have listeners as far away as Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, while in the UK the biggest centre for downloads appears to be Blackheath in London,” said Wayne, who runs the Jogging Pals running and coaching scheme.
A presenter with Lake District radio on a weekly basis, Wayne chats on the podcasts with Neil, who runs Plain Creative in Kendal, the print and digital, brand and marketing, strategy and communications specialists, and Lisa, the co- founder and designer at Kidunk children’s outdoor clothing whose creative office is Kendal based.
“We just choose a topic for each episode, and chatter away about it, whether it’s mugs, or stationery, and see where the conversation takes us. It’s a bit like Chinese whispers.”
Feedback so far has been as enthusiastic as the podcasters themselves. “Listeners seem to really appreciate the light-hearted banter,” said Wayne. “It’s a real antidote to the reality of the world at the moment. Subjects can be seemingly inane and dull yet our ramblings seek to find fun and joy in the drabbest of corners.”
I hate snow. No news there, everyone knows that I want to hibernate from October to March. But this year is so desperately awful all round that a few flakes of the horrid white stuff don’t make much difference one way or the other. And I have to go out every day or go mad, so it’s time to embrace it. Perhaps not literally.
So, today, it snowed, and I set off for a walk. Oh, that it were so simple! I put on so many layers that I could barely move towards the front door where I fitted the new Yaktrax to my boots, stepped outside, and decided that, perhaps, I didn’t actually need them, so stepped back inside, took them off, put in a dry bag, packed them away in rucksack, then re-fit the previously-unworn gaiters that I’d found in the cupboard.
Left house, decided to go back for walking poles, returned to house. Set off again and before reaching the front gate my nose was running, so I took off mittens to find a hanky, dropped mittens in the slush, returned to the house to find the elastic clip things with which to attach mittens to cuffs of coat.
Left house, realised it was impossible to hold walking poles in mittens, returned to house to exchange mittens for thick gloves, which involved unclipping said mittens and re-clipping said gloves. Left house, thinking longingly of summer when you go to the front door, put on trainers, tie a windproof round your middle, and set off. Just like that.
At the bottom of the road, I was feeling like a wally for walking with poles on the pavement, especially as it had stopped snowing by now. And realised that the gaiters were slipping round, as I’d removed their straps to accommodate the Yaktrax which I was no longer wearing. Stopped to adjust gaiters, which involved removing gloves, dropped poles in the slush, swore quietly.
Met friend as arranged and apologised for being late, and noted that she was wearing Yaktrax, but not gloves or a hat. Life would be dull if we were all the same. We walked to the head of the lake and decided to do some birdwatching, which involved removing rucksack to find binoculars. Now – and this is NOT a rhetorical question – what do you do with walking poles when you need both hands to get something out of a rucksack? Answers on a plain postcard please…
Mine had, meanwhile, dropped into the mud, from where I retrieved them with bare hands. Swore loudly. Same bare hands also seemed necessary to focus the binoculars (YOU try it, with thick gloves on.) We tried to walk across some frozen mud to the lake-shore, but it wasn’t QUITE frozen enough. So let’s just call it mud.
We saw a golden eye, perhaps, and a little grebe, maybe, and then walked up the hill to visit our owl who, sensibly, was hunkered down asleep in his tree hole. That’s why they call them wise owls.
It was, nevertheless, a very pleasant walk with very good company, and took slightly longer than the time spent getting ready to leave the house. Though maybe not, when added to the time spent unpeeling all the layers back at home, and wondering where to store the muddy poles, and Yaktrax and gaiters and overtrousers and gloves and unworn mittens and hat and puffer jacket, and it is precisely 51 days, 8 hours and 35 minutes till the first day of spring.
In the age of digital photography and instant pictures, there’s something a little magical about watching an image slowly appear before your eyes.
And when the colour of that image can be altered by using kitchen ingredients such as tea, coffee – and red wine – there’s an element of fun as well as magic.
Chris Routledge, an award-winning conceptual and documentary landscape photographer, who lives at Ormskirk, has developed an expertise in the process known as cyanotype and is now finding an appreciative audience for his beautiful and unusual prints.
“Having a print on the wall, or looking at them in a book is entirely different from seeing them online. In print you get to know a piece of work, to think about it, and enjoy it more deeply,” he says.
A writer and former lecturer in English, Chris has enjoyed taking pictures since he was given a Kodak Instamatic camera as a child.
But photography really began to “get a grip on me” in 2002, when he and his wife Siobhan went on an extended trip to California, where she was researching a book. “The day before we set off our old camera jammed, and I replaced it in a hurry with an early a digital camera. It was terrible by today’s standards, but very exciting at the time.”
Chris started photographing everything, “and it became even more of an obsession in 2004 when our daughter Caitlin was born.” He bought a more advanced camera “seven megapixels!”, and had some of his photographs published in Lancashire Life to accompany an article about Liverpool’s Cain’s brewery (which he was writing a book about at the time). “By then I was also starting to see the creative possibilities of photography beyond the camera.”
Chris started using film again in 2008 when he realised that excellent old cameras with interesting lenses were available for very little money: “People were giving them away in fact. And so I was able to experiment with equipment from the previous 100 years of photography. This was the point at which picture making as a form of expression separated itself from simply taking pictures.”
He collaborated with the poet Rebecca Goss (their book Carousel won the Michael Marks Award for Illustration in 2019), and began exhibiting his work, notably at the Portico Library in Manchester. His commercial work includes book covers and photograhs for books and magazines, including National Geographic Books, and the Inward Eye Film Festival at Zeffirellis in Ambleside.
In December 2015 Chris was at Rydal in the Lake District when Storm Desmond hit, and immediately began photographing a short stretch of the River Rothay in the aftermath. This work eventually became a book Indeterminate Land, and an exhibition at the Heaton Cooper Gallery in Grasmere in 2019.
He’d been invited to run a series of cyanotype workshops at Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth, when the pandemic forced lockdown. Instead, Chris used the time to develop his website, selling work made from negatives printed onto overhead projector transparencies. These large negatives, placed on top of sensitised paper, are exposed to ultraviolet light (the sun) to make a cyanotype “contact print”.
“I like experimenting with different papers, all of which produce different textures and effects. I fell in love with the process as a way of making unique, tactile art works from my photographs.”
The prints have a delicate ethereal quality, at times ghostly; some see a portal into fairyland. There’s Winter Ash, a photo taken on Loughrigg fell, with a sideways light that caught the grey branches of the tree. The picture is printed on hand-made cotton rag paper.
Then there’s the old stone boat-house on the shores of Grasmere, a picture taken on a cold February day when fog blotted out everything except the outline of a wintry tree.
Chris says: “For me photography is an opportunity to experiment with composition, light, ideas, and emotion. This is more important to me than pixel-perfect images. “
It led him first to pinhole cameras, and then to cyanotype printing, which is a method of making images discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1841. Anna Atkins soon began using it to make scientific illustrations of lichen and algae, and produced the first ever photobooks with it in 1843. Cyanotype prints are blue, and the best-known use of the process was in copying technical drawings and plans, which became known as “blueprints”.
Making a cyanotype print is very simple, says Chris. Paper is coated with a mixture of two chemicals, ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. “Despite their alarming names, these are relatively safe to use if you take basic precautions.”
Once dried, the paper is sensitive to UV light. It should be stored in the dark, but can be handled in subdued light indoors, though flourescent light should be avoided.
To make a cyanotype “photogram” place feathers, pressed flowers, or anything you like on the paper, put a piece of glass on top to keep it flat, and put it outside in the sun for a while. Once the paper has changed colour, rinse the paper in water, and an image should appear.
“Different levels of sunlight affect how long the exposure you will need (around 10-15 minutes on a sunny day in Lancashire), but experimenting is part of the pleasure.
“If you want to go a little further, you can experiment with bleaching the print, toning it to alter the blue colour, or change it altogether, using things from the kitchen such as tea, coffee, red wine, vinegar, and so on. After a while you learn to get the effects you want, or just relax and give in to chance.”
Prints and printing have become more important to him, says Chris, especially under lockdown conditions, when going out to take new photographs has not been easy.
He was also involved in another lockdown project, a marathon reading of the story The Picts and the Martyrs by Arthur Ransome. He’s previously staged events on the shores of Coniston water, and at the Coppermines youth hostel, where fans of Ransome – actors, writers, enthusiasts old and young – gathered to read aloud Swallows and Amazons, and Pigeon Post.
This time, the readers recorded their allocated chapters at home, then uploaded them for release on social media. There’s a dedicated website for the project, https://ifnotduffers.org