Monthly Archives: February 2017

Leading actress backs climate change campaign

“Disastrous decisions in the US will impact upon us all”

Actress Emma Thompson has joined a growing list of environmental activists backing the high-impact book of pictures by photographer Ashley Cooper, Images from a Warming Planet.

Ms Thompson, star of many popular films including Love Actually and Saving Mr Banks, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Actress in Howard’s End, is also an outspoken campaigner on climate change and environmental issues.

After reading the book she wrote to Mr Cooper: “Sometimes pictures are more powerful than any words and at the beginning of a year that presages some disastrous decisions in the US that will impact upon us all, this book has become essential reading.”


The book of more than 500 images, which documents the impact of climate change around the world, was published last year, the result of a 13 year global journey by the top photographer who is based in the Lake District.

Mr Cooper took thousands of photographs in key locations which illustrate the havoc being brought upon the natural world, and amassed the world’s largest collection of pictures documenting climate change on every continent, from the Inuit communities of the Arctic to the coral atoll islands of the Pacific Ocean, showing the damage caused by dependence on fossil fuels:  flooding, glacial erosion, and deforestation.

The book was endorsed by Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, who said: “This book is far more than just a collection of impressive photographs – it documents a massively important and concerning phenomenon that will affect us all. These images vividly show the effect which climate change is having on our planet, and serves as a wake-up call for us all to act before it is too late.”

And leading environmentalist Jonathan Porritt wrote in the book’s foreword: “This is a book about change. About the way the climate is already changing, and the way in which it will change even more dramatically in the future. About changes in peoples’ lives as they seek to make sense of weather systems that seem to have slipped those reassuring bounds of normality and predictability. About changes in our understanding of what’s going on around us, in our world views, in our orientation both to our current reality and to the future.”





Cash prize doubles for young poets in Wordsworth competition

Prize money for the best young poet in Cumbria has been doubled this year to mark the fifth anniversary of a popular competition.

The annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets is organised by the descendants of William Wordsworth, and is open to students at all schools in the county.

This year the author of the winning poem will receive a cash prize of £100, plus a personal trophy, and the poem will be framed and displayed alongside the work of the famous poet in the popular tourist attraction near Ambleside.

The theme for this year’s competition is “A walk on the wild side”, was chosen by the poet’s great great great grand-daughter, Susan. She and other descendants of William will judge the poems, and the winner will be announced at an award ceremony at Rydal Mount on April 27.

Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, who is organising the contest on behalf of the Wordsworth family, said: “We decided to double the prize money this year in celebration of our fifth event. The competition has attracted some wonderful work from young people over the years, and we are looking forward to seeing what this year’s entries surprise us with.

“It’s also a chance for a young poet to see his or her work immortalised alongside the poems of Wordsworth himself in his former home, and read by thousands of visitors.”


There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories. Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the descendants of William Wordsworth.

Last year’s winner was a 14 year old Jacob Currie, (right) a pupil at Furness Academy, who took the title with his poem The Gap in Life after members of the Wordsworth family judged more than 150 entries from Cumbrian schools. His poem has been framed and is displayed at Rydal Mount for visitors to read.

The closing date for entries is Monday March 20, and the Wordsworths report that entries are already coming in.

Entry forms can be found at

or via the Cumbria education department schools’ information portal.



New painting of the house where Swallows and Amazons writer lived

A special painting by popular Lakes artist Nick Leigh has been commissioned to mark the 50th anniversary of the writer Arthur Ransome.

The painting shows the house, Hill Top, at Ealinghearth near Haverthwaite, where Ransome – the author of the children’s classic story Swallows and Amazons – spent his final years.

It was commissioned by Stephen and Janine Sykes who bought the house five years ago, and have since converted an adjoining barn into a luxury holiday cottage.


But parts of the house, including the entrance hall with its range fireplace, are almost unchanged since Ransome lived there with his Russian-born wife Evgenia.

The former farmhouse dates back to 1680 and lies in two acres of gardens and woodland overlooking the Rusland valley to the Coniston fells, where many of Ransome’s fictional adventures were set.

“We are great admirers of Nick’s work and so we were thrilled when he agreed to paint a picture of the house,” said Stephen.

Arthur Ransome died in June 1967 at Cheadle Royal Hospital, Cheshire after he became ill and Evegenia was unable to look after him.

Stephen and Janine, who have carried out considerable research into Ransome’s life and times at Hill Top, are supporting another Swallows and Amazons event this summer, the marathon reading of the story at Coniston in September, part of Visit England’s year of literary heroes programme, which is also included in the Lakes Culture calendar.

Nick’s painting has also been printed onto a limited edition set of mugs which Stephen and Janine are giving to their cottage guests as a souvenir.

Kendal-based  Nick is foremost a landscape painter, whose work is inspired by the Cumbrian fells and other mountain areas, and  by 1930s vinatge posters. He’s a keen climber, fell-runner and traveller.

You can stay at Hill Top cottage


A classic show returns to Grasmere

A highlight of the year for motor fans, the Lakes Charity Classic Vehicle Show is coming again this summer to be staged at the sports field in Grasmere in the heart of the Lakeland fells.

Among the many classic cars and other vehicles on display will be the wonderful surprise Christmas present bought for the chair of the organising committee, Anthony Harrison, by his wife Christine. What do you buy for the man who has everything – including a classic Mini pick-up? Why, a classic motorbike, of course.

And so Anthony was a very happy man on Christmas Day when Christine presented him with a log book. Outside in the car park was the bike of his dreams, a 1954 AJS 350cc motorcycle.

“Classic indeed,” smiles Anthony. “It’s just six months younger than me. It was a fabulous surprise.”

The Lakes show has become a very popular event on the calendar, attracting more than 300 vehicles from all over the UK. Among the regular visitors is a group who call themselves “the Grumpy Old Men” who bring their cars – including an MGYB – over from Yorkshire.


But there will be a great range of classic vehicles taking part, of course, including those from the BMW, Triumph and Morris Minor owners clubs. Last year a rare Brough Superior car made an appearance; yes, they are better known for motor bikes. This time you’re likely to spot a 1914 truck and perhaps a steam-powered bus.

The event is organised each year for charity by the Windermere and Ambleside Lions Club, a small but dynamic team of volunteers whose efforts are appreciated by the entire community in Cumbria.

Last year’s  show made more than £7,000 for South Lakes Young Carers and the Jigsaw children’s hospice trust; it’s always local charities which benefit.  Over the year they have raised over £35,000, helping 10 local charities. This time the chosen charities are Blood Bikes Cumbria, and LAMRT.

Blood bikes groups are run by volunteers to provide an emergency medical service in the United Kingdom and Ireland, with  motorcycle courier services to hospitals and other healthcare providers, to help with the transport of urgent blood, tissue and organs. Last year nationwide they answered 39,000 calls from hospitals.

The Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team  (LAMRT) operates in part of the central Lake District, Britain’s busiest mountain area. Again, run entirely by volunteers, they deal with more than 100 incidents each year, rescuing those who are lost or injured in the hills. A self-funding dedicated team of ‘professional volunteers’ coming from all walks of life, they are united in their love of mountains and their wish to help their fellow mountaineers in trouble.

“We always want to help local charities, and we know that these two both provide a vital service here in the Lake District,” said Anthony.

He and Christine run a guest house in nearby Ambleside, and they are both involved with planning and organising the car show all year round. “As soon as one show has ended, we start work planning the next,” said Anthony, a long-standing member of the local Lions.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organisation with 1.3 million members in some 45,000 clubs in 205 countries, and this year marks its centenary.

Lions are men and women who volunteer their time for humanitarian causes. Founded in 1917 by Melvin Jones, their motto is “We Serve”, and they exist to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding through Lions clubs.

The classic car show is their flagship event in the Lakes. It’s a popular day out for families, with an entry fee of just £5 (£12 for a family) and plenty of entertainment all day long. There will be tombola stalls, live music, Scalextric races, a car pull contest, and a competition to identify unusual motor parts.

There’s also a bar, and a number of different food outlets, and the organisers will welcome bookings from auto-jumble dealers. “We would like to try and encourage more motorbikes, trucks and other vehicles,” said Anthony.

They are also looking for young blood to become members of the organising committee and helped make the show bigger and better again in the future.

For more information see

The Lakes Charity Classic Vehicle Show will be on Sunday June 18 at the Grasmere sports ground just off the A591, postcode LA22 9SL.

Benefits of therapeutic writing – by a novelist

A  South Lakes novelist has written a book for people who would like to discover the joys and benefits of therapeutic writing.

Wendy Storer, who writes fiction for children and young adults, took time out from storytelling to publish In Your Write Mind, for “people who want to learn about themselves and who like writing”.


Described as a “toolbox of therapeutic and creative writing exercises” In Your Write Mind aims to help readers feel happier, think more clearly, be kind to themselves and solve problems.

Wendy presents a series of simple exercises as a starting point to deeper self-knowing, then, she says, “change them, develop them, invent new exercises, or even write a book … and have fun doing it.”

Wendy usually writes fiction for young adults, inspired by real life, and has published two books to date under the Applecore label: Bring Me Sunshine and Where Bluebirds Fly. The first was runner up in the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition and is set in Kendal, while Bluebirds is based in and around Morecambe.

Wendy, who has worked as a teacher with children and adults and is a trained hypnotherapist, says:  “I’m interested in the human drama, the stories which tug at the heart strings and the amazing resilience of people who battle through desperate situations to come out the other side, happier. I hope my stories will leave readers with a sense of hope and expectation that life can get better, even when the chances look slim.”

Wendy, who lives in Kendal, is currently awaiting publication of her third young people’s novel, Being Lucky, whilst working on a fourth novel, as yet untitled.  Her books are available on Amazon, but can also be bought through her website

Marathon reading of Swallows and Amazons..beside the lake, of course

A marathon reading of the classic children’s story Swallows and Amazons will be staged this summer on the shore of the lake where the tale was set.

The event, to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the author, Arthur Ransome, will take place at Coniston on Sunday September 3.

A number of celebrity readers have already signed up to take part and it’s expected that the book’s 31 chapters will take around nine hours to read.


The event is being organised by Dr Chris Routledge who is head of Continuing Education, English Language and Literature, at Liverpool University, in association with the Lake District National Park and the Arthur Ransome Trust. Also supporting the reading are Stephen and Janine Sykes who live at Hill Top, Ransome’s last home in the Lake District.

It will mark the end of a summer-long exhibition at the Ruskin Museum in Coniston about Ransome, Russia and storytelling.

Dr Routledge, a great fan of Arthur Ransome, previously organised a marathon reading of Moby Dick at the Merseyside Maritime Museum; a much longer novel, that event took three days.

“It seems an appropriate way to celebrate the life and work of Ransome,” he said. “We are delighted that the Lake District National Park  has offered their site at the Coniston Boating Centre on the lake shore. And our partners at the Arthur Ransome Trust are providing marquees to keep our readers and visitors under canvas, in true Swallows and Amazons fashion.”


Dr Chris Routledge

Dr Routledge’s 13 year old daughter Caitlin will be one of the younger readers, along with Elizabeth Kaye, the 11 year old daughter of Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, owners of Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel, who are avid fans of the Ransome stories.

Also taking part is Becky Heaton Cooper, director of the Heaton Cooper Studio, who is currently reading Swallows and Amazons to her six year old twins Alfie and Ophelia. “They love the book. They’ve not yet sailed, but we’ve paddled in a Canadian canoe to ‘Wild Cat Island’ on Coniston, so they identify with all the adventures,” said Becky.

“We have a remarkable literary and artistic heritage here in the Lakes and it is a pleasure to connect our family of artists with one of the great writers.”

Among the celebrity readers who have signed up are 14 year old actor Hannah Jayne Thorp, who played the part of Peggy in last year’s film version of Swallows and Amazons. The screenplay writer of that film, Andrea Gibb, will also read a chapter, along with Christina Hardyment, author of several Ransome-related books and senior executor for the Arthur Ransome Literary Estate.


Hannah Jayne Thorp as Peggy in the 2016 film of Swallows and Amazons

First bands booked for Ambleside festival

The first bands have been booked to play at this year’s Festival of the Fells in Ambleside.

Room Full of Mirrors will play on the Friday night in the Market Cross Square which proved to be a popular venue when the Festival was first held last autumn.

On the Saturday night, music will be provided by The Mojo Band. Support bands will also be booked for both evenings, including Scrogan’s Run (folk musicians Paddy Rogan and Wayne Scurry) on the Friday night.

The four day celebration of life in and around the town will be staged for the second time in September.


Border TV filming in Market Cross square at last year’s festival

Organised by Ambleside Together, the event is supported by the new headline sponsors, leading holiday cottage company Heart of the Lakes.


Once again there will be a full programme of guided walks, swims, talks and films, in venues in and around the town, and a trail race to the summit of Wansfell.

The organisers hope that local businesses will join in to share the excitement – and to reap the financial rewards. An independent survey indicated that last year’s festival brought an extra £250,000 into the town over the four days, and visitors are already booking to stay for the weekend.

The festival will run from Thursday September 21 till Sunday September 24.


Ace response as backgammon club gets under way

The Lake District backgammon club is to meet twice a month after the first session of the year was a huge success.

Enthusiasts turned up to play the boards at Windermere’s Cedar Manor Hotel, and several players signed up to take part in a major tournament next month.

The hotel is the annual host for the prestigious Lake District backgammon championship which attracts top players from across the UK, and has the backing of the UK Backgammon Federation and the British Isles Backgammon Association.


This year’s event will be held at the Cedar Manor on Sunday March 19, and reigning champion Ian Hesketh is due to return and defend his title.

Organiser Jonathan Kaye said that the response to the call for new club players had been very encouraging. “Everyone had a really good time, and we decided that we should meet fortnightly,” he said.

Jonathan, who learned to play backgammon when he was manager of the legendary Raffles nightclub in Chelsea, says that the game is easy to learn, combining skill and chance.

The next meeting of the club will be Thursday Feb 23, 7pm, at the Cedar Manor.

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest board games, combining skill and chance, and is played in cafés across the Mediterranean and in exclusive London clubs, with world championships staged in exotic locations.


More information: 015394 43192

Champagne celebration as retailer marks anniversary

A North West retailer is celebrating 35 years in business proving that there’s still a place for local, independent specialists in a world of anonymous online trading.

Clocktower at Milnthorpe is the area’s biggest independent retailer of kitchen appliances, with a vast range of everything from kettles and blenders to free-standing and built-in washers, fridges and ovens.

But they have also built a 35-year reputation as experts who can advise, fit and repair electrical goods, trusted as an honest company with wide-ranging knowledge of what their customers need.


And now they are developing online sales as well, alongside the onsite store.

Clocktower is run by Tom Harvey whose parents began the business 35 years ago, initially at nearby Haverthwaite. The company moved to its current, extensive roadside home on the A6 at Milnthorpe 30 years ago.

In that time Tom, who is also a South Lakeland district councillor, and chairman of Cartmel Cricket Club, has seen the inexorable rise of online retailing while his own business has continued to grow, with a customer base that ranges from Grasmere to Lancaster, and from Barrow to Kirkby Lonsdale.

“It’s clear evidence that people want individual attention, genuine advice and knowledgeable service,” says Tom.

“For example, if a customer comes in for a new washing machine, we ask if their kitchen/diner is open plan, and help them select a quieter model. We can explain about the different kinds of tumble dryers and which might suit their needs best. That’s not something you can discover when buying online.”

The company does have an online sales department, which is appreciated by a younger generation of buyers, but Tom says that many customers like to call at the showroom knowing what they need – and finding the best advice to guide them to the best product.

“Our customers want advice,” he says. “They want to see items before they buy, and they want to talk to someone who has the knowledge to answer their questions.

“They also know that they can come here for spare parts and replacement parts, and that we can install their new washers and ovens.”

The company doesn’t build fitted kitchens, but can provide the appliances either built-in or free standing, as needed. Their best sellers currently tend to be Bosch laundry appliances, and refrigeration from the premium brand Liebherr.

Visitors to the store can enter a raffle for a bottle of champagne to mark the firm’s significant anniversary.

Young poets offered a chance to be read alongside Wordsworth

A walk on the wild side: that’s the theme for this year’s major poetry award for young people in Cumbria. And the winning poem will be immortalised alongside the work of William Wordsworth in his former home, to be read by thousands of visitors.

The annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets is organised by the descendants of William Wordsworth, and is open to students at all schools in the county.

Poems and judged by members of the Wordsworth family, who will attend the fifth annual award ceremony later this spring. The winning poem will be framed and displayed prominently in the drawing room at the popular tourist attraction.

Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, who is organising the contest on behalf of the Wordsworth family, said: “The writers can interpret the theme in any way they wish. A walk on the wild side was the choice of Susan, the great great great grand-daughter of the poet. William Wordsworth was a great walker, of course, and so much of his poetry was inspired by what he saw when walking in the Lakes.”

The winner will receive a £100 cash prize, a personal trophy, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour on the plaque at Wordsworth’s former home at Rydal Mount near Ambleside. There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories.

Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the descendants of William Wordsworth.

Last year’s winner was a 14 year old Jacob Currie, a pupil at Furness Academy, who took the title with his poem The Gap in Life after members of the Wordsworth family judged more than 150 entries from Cumbrian schools. His poem has been framed and is displayed at Rydal Mount for visitors to read.

The closing date for entries is Monday March 20, and an award ceremony will be held at Rydal Mount on Thursday April 27 when the winner will be announced.

Entry forms can be found at

or via the Cumbria education department schools’ information portal.

See last year’s winner Jacob reading his poem here, watched by Christopher, the great great great great grandson of William Wordsworth