Category Archives: tourism

Cumbrian crime thriller with foot and mouth background

Book review: Burning Secrets, by Ruth Sutton

It was the springtime we’ll never forget, when the shadow of foot and mouth disease spread across much of the country.

Cities once ravaged by the blitz were spared this time. Instead it was the quiet and picturesque corners…more than corners, in truth, huge swathes of land….that saw bonfires of burning animals, villages isolated, and farmers even driven to suicide in despair.

Cumbria was the worst affected region, with the fells out of bounds (ludicrously, to city visitors arriving in clean boots), tourism businesses wrecked, and healthy animals slaughtered.

This is the backdrop to Ruth Sutton’s latest novel, Burning Secrets, set in northern Cumbria where families were torn apart by the outbreak. Even to the extent of sending children to live elsewhere, to more easily access their schooling, just as wartime evacuees were sent to live “in the country”.

ruth portrait

Ruth Sutton

And it’s one of these, a sensitive and trusting lass called Helen, who goes missing, kidnapped by a man with serious instability issues.

It seems to take a tortuous age before she’s safe – well, relatively so – back with her family. But those who wonder why a police search could be so slow need to understand how normal life came to a halt during the crisis. There was no freedom to move around in country areas. Why, even tourists trying to get to Windermere on the Kendal bypass had to drive over a disinfected mat.

The tension increases on Helen’s return when mysteries continue to thwart the local police. And here we are introduced to one of two intriguing women characters, Detective Sergeant Anna Penrose, an outsider regarded with suspicion by colleagues, but one who proves to be as tough as her military training.

The other is the missing girl’s mother, Rose, secretive, cunning and apparently vulnerable all at the  same time.

Sutton’s characters are her great strength, and there are still new readers coming to love her trilogy, Between the Mountains and the Sea, and her subsequent crime novels set in West Cumbria, Cruel Tide and Fatal Reckoning. Will they want to see more of DS Penrose? Or will they be hankering to see familiar faces and familiar territory ?

It will be the new readers, those from beyond Cumbria, who will find a fascinating and surprisingly grim picture behind the picture postcard views of the Lake District. Sutton knows how to do realism.

http://ruthsutton.co.uk/wordpress/

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Festival discount for Windermere guests

The Lake District’s top musical festival has teamed up with a luxury B&B in Windermere  whose guests will be able to buy discounted tickets.

Visitors booking at 1 Park Road in Windermere will have access to the offer for the Lake District Summer Music Festival.

Eblana string trio. Photo: Ian Dingle

Eblana string trio. Photo: Ian Dingle

The biggest event of its kind, the Festival has chamber music at its heart and hosts over 40 events in different locations across the South Lakes. Venues include historic churches and halls found across the region, including Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and Ulverston.

The owner of 1 Park Road, Philip Burton, is a trained classical pianist whose guests are encouraged to play the piano in the lounge. He and his wife Mary also run special music-themed breaks in the Lakes.

“The Festival is a significant event on the music scene in the Lakes and we want to make sure that our summer visitors know what’s happening, and have access to this wonderful programme,” said Philip.

This year the Festival features more than 40 separate events, of works from 87 different composers, with some artists appearing at LDSM for the first time, not least the young musicians giving nine Festival Début Concerts.

“We add a distinct and compelling musical focus to Cumbria’s rich cultural heritage of painting and literature in the Lake District,” said Festival general manager Kim Sargeant. “Our aim is to develop this musical focus, to fulfil a major role in the provision of music regionally, to be welcomed by local communities and sought by musicians, music-lovers, young and old, around the world.”

Guests at 1 Park Road will have to book in advance as the discounts cannot be applied at the door. When making their reservations at the B&B, they will be given the discount code to book tickets for concerts.

Full details of the programme can be found at http://www.ldsm.org.uk/international-festival.

To book to stay at 1 Park Road, see the website

Philip has written about the music he loves…and what pleases his guests https://1parkroad.co.uk/if-music-be-the-food-of-breakfasts/

 

Top backgammon players head to the Lakes

backgammon board

Top backgammon players from across the UK will head to Windermere at the weekend for the annual Lake District championship.

The Lakes event is being staged for the fifth time at the Cedar Manor Hotel, with the backing of the UK Backgammon Federation and the British Isles Backgammon Association. It will bring together 16 of the most experienced and award-winning players from far and wide for what promises to be a nail-biting series of matches on Sunday.

Lounge & Bar

Last year’s winner was Bradford’s Steve Lee who claimed victory after a final 7-3 win over Pol Lapidakis from Newcastle.

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

The championship is organised by Cedar Manor owner Jonathan Kaye who learned to play backgammon when he was manager of Raffles nightclub in London. His dream is to see backgammon established as part of the café culture of the Lake District, as it is in Mediterranean countries, and he hosts a regular local backgammon club.

“We are now recognised as one of the major tournaments on the UK calendar,” he said.

“But while we attract the top players, we also welcome people of all abilities at our regular monthly club event. We will be very pleased to hear from any local players who want to take part.”

The winner gets a cash prize and a voucher to stay at the hotel.

 

 

Pianists who head for the Lakes

While most visitors to the Lake District head out onto the fells for fresh air and exercise, at one guest house they’re encouraged to stay indoors  – and play the piano.

The sound of music can be heard from the sitting room at 1 Park Road in Windermere, where the host  – who dishes up an acclaimed eggs benedict for breakfast – is also a trained classical pianist.

And Philip Burton, piano teacher as well as hotelier, wants to encourage guests to play during their stay, whatever their musical standard.

philip at piano

“We had a family who came here one half term holiday specifically so that their daughter could practise for her forthcoming music exams,” said Philip. He and his wife Mary now offer a special musical short break package for guests who want to play their Broadwood piano while in the Lakes.

A music teacher at the Lakes School who also gives private lessons, Philip is currently the accompanist for Kendal Choral Society. He studied music at Liverpool University and the Royal Northern College of Music, and dreamed of being a concert pianist. “I tried to pursue it professionally in London, but I came to realise that only a minority make it as a career.”

Instead he, and Mary, worked in the health service for many years until they moved to Windermere to run the guest house. Over the years he’s been director of music for a number of choirs and choral societies, with a reputation for the unusual, such as staging experimental versions of Mozart’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah.

And he was given a very special gift by a museum curator in Diessen, the twin town of Windermere, where the composer Carl Orff was born, after Philip conducted Staveley Choral Society in Orff’s Carmina Burana at The Lakes School. It is a bound facsimile of the entire score of the piece, one of the world’s most famous choral works.

Also in pride of place at the guest house, this time on the dining room walls, is a series of framed cartoons. Look closely, and you’ll see Philip in each one, featuring comic highlights of his time as a choirmaster in Buckinghamshire and created specially for him by a member of the choir.

And his own favourite composers? Scarlatti, Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Debussy and Bartok.

They run a two or three day piano package for all abilities, where pianists are promised great fun, and that they will leave playing a piece. Call 015394 42107

marking music cartoon

Detail from one of the cartoons