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/



Ambleside: a town to be celebrated in flowers


The newly restored mural of Ambleside Rushbearing will take pride of place at a community flower festival in the town.

More than 20 local charities and organisations will celebrate their activities with displays of flowers and artefacts at Ambleside’s St. Mary’s Church over Spring Bank Holiday weekend. (From Saturday 26th to Monday 28th May.) The event has been organised to celebrate the richness of life in the town.

The church will be open from 10am to 5pm each day, admission is free and refreshments will be available. There will be musical interludes, including recitals on the celebrated Hope Jones organ.

On the Saturday evening (May 26) there’s a concert by Kendal Big Band. This is a 17 piece ensemble playing swing, dance and vocal arrangements, hosted by the Rotary Club of Ambleside.

Tickets are £10 and available from Rotary members and at the door. Refreshments will be available and concert goers will have the chance to view the floral displays.

The 11am service at St. Mary’s on Sunday May 27 will be a special community event to celebrate life in Ambleside. The preacher will be Canon Beth Smith, who was raised in Ambleside and was an accountant in the village for many years before entering the ministry.

The mural on church wall shows the Rushbearing tradition which is carried out every summer. It was painted on the church wall by Gordon Ransome, an art student at the Royal College of Art, which was evacuated to Ambleside during the war. It was painted as a thank you to the people of Ambleside in 1944 and local children were used as models.


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.



First woman at the helm of traditional Lakeland sports


A new chair has taken the helm of the committee which organises England’s oldest traditional sports event.

Marjorie Blackburn is the first woman to lead Ambleside Sports, now in its 132nd year. Mrs Blackburn takes over from Jak Hirst who is stepping down after 13 years. He will keep an advisory role, and retain responsibility for attracting sponsorship.

Marj and Jak

Mrs Blackburn, who lives in Ambleside, has been a member of the organising committee for 18 years, alongside her husband, Mike, himself a former chairman.  Her professional career includes teaching and training, personnel and business, and she is a keen golfer, walker, and member of a local singing group.

Many tributes were paid to Mr Hirst’s “total dedication” to the Sports and he was described as a great team leader.

Ambleside Sports is run entirely by volunteers who spend months in planning and organising, and then a full week of setting up and taking down the sports field equipment. One of the highlights on the Cumbrian calendar, the event includes fell racing (with a new category for under-9s in the popular Guides race this year), hound trails, track cycling, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and many stalls and sideshows.

The committee has also given £14,000 in the last five years in sporting scholarships to young people in the area, to help them develop their sporting potential.

Also stepping down from the committee was Tom Harrington MBE, the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestler who won 44 world championships.

This year’s event will be held at Rydal Park on Thursday July 26. Space is still available for anyone wanting to book a trade stall in the “craft” marquee to sell local produce, art, jewellery etc, and these can be booked for £35, including table,  via the website http://amblesidesports.co.uk/



Folk legend to play benefit gig for homeless charity

Legendary folk singer Roy Bailey is to play a benefit concert for the homeless at a Kendal venue this summer.

The 82 year old performer and social campaigner will sing at St George’s Church, Kendal on Saturday 14 July to raise funds for the town’s winter shelter scheme.

roy bailey

Each winter for three months, a group of local churches open their doors to the homeless in a scheme administered by the charity, Manna House. The scheme also features a residential trip over Christmas itself.

Based in Kendal, Manna House provides a community of support to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of people who are homeless or vulnerably housed in South Lakeland. There’s a daytime drop-in centre offering company, food and advice, and a network of support, practical assistance and learning opportunities.

Sheffield-based Bailey rarely travels across the Pennines these days. One of the UK folk and acoustic scene’s most loved and admired performers for more than 50 years, he has sung and played on stages, TV and radio across the world. He was awarded an MBE for services to folk music in 2000, but later returned the award in protest at Government foreign policy.

From his early days performing skiffle in student union bars, to his love of traditional songs and the stories they tell, he has developed a unique repertoire of songs of dissent and hope.  In 1990 Roy joined forces with the politician Tony Benn to present their show ‘The Writing on the Wall’ for which the duo won Best Live Act at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

A dedicated social conscience has underpinned all his work and he remains committed to his life-long principles of equality, liberty, justice and internationalism. Bailey has worked with many different people throughout his career and can count many well respected people, from all walks of life, among his enthusiastic supporters. Tony Benn called him “the greatest socialist folksinger of his generation”, and he is admired by leading performers such as Billy Bragg, Martin Carthy and Mike Harding.

Bragg says of him: “… as powerful as anything I’d heard by The Clash – it was Roy’s voice, the strength of it and the compassion in it.”

He contributed vocals to Chumbawamba’s 2008 album The Boy Bands Have Won, and joined the band on stage on their farewell Leeds show in October 2012.

In 2016, Roy released his first live album, Live At Towersey, which was recorded in secret at the leading folk festival and featured songs written by Si Kahn, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Tams, Robb Johnson and others.

Manna House winter shelter co-ordinator Lois Sparling said: “We are thrilled that Roy Bailey has agreed to come and perform in Kendal. Roy is as compelling, entertaining, thought provoking and moving as ever. As well as being an acclaimed folk artist, he’s also committed to fighting social injustice, and we hope this concert will bring the work of Manna House and the Winter Shelter to a wider audience.

“Homelessness is a complex and growing problem, and it’s one we must all face.”

Tickets for the concert at St George’s Church, Kendal on Saturday 14 July at 8pm are £12 and available now from www.trybooking.co.uk/2724

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

Artist’s life from Cumbria to Italy, and back again

Jean Sturgis: A Sense of Place : Paintings, Prints and Drawings

An artist with Cumbrian roots and a love of Italy will be featured at a new exhibition opening in Grasmere next month.

The Heaton Cooper Studio will host a display of paintings, drawings and etchings by Jean Sturgis who died at Kentmere two years ago.

This exhibition brings together work from across the span of her career, revealing an artist of great sensitivity with a distinct and expressive vision.


Born Jean Nicoll, in 1931 just outside Kendal, she was the daughter of J.S. Nicoll, a Director of K shoes, who encouraged her early enthusiasm for art.

Among his friends were the artists Robin Wallace and William Wilson, and Jean, as a girl, was able work with them, since her father invited them to the family home at Staveley to lead painting courses for local children.

She studied art first at Goldsmiths College, London and then at the Slade School of Art. “It was a stimulating and challenging time,” says her artist son Daniel Sturgis. “Among her painting tutors were William Coldstream (the founder of the Euston Road Group), Patrick George, Maurice Field and L.S. Lowry. She learnt etching and print-making from the brilliant print-maker John Buckland-Wright. The emphasis of the teaching was always towards careful observation and working directly from the motif.”

In 1953, Jean was awarded a prestigious travelling scholarship that allowed her to work at the British School at Rome. Her 18 months in Italy –first in Rome, then in the little hill-top town of Anticoli Corrado – instilled in her a life-long love of the country, its art and its people.

Returning to England she settled in London, exhibiting in various shows in Edinburgh and London, including the Leicester Galleries, one the most prominent forums for post-war British painting. She also taught at Queen’s Gate School, and in mental hospitals.

In 1958 she married the architect Tim Sturgis and together they had five children. “Her dedication to family life altered the trajectory of her artistic career, but she continued to paint, and to engage with the arts in other ways,” says Daniel.

jean nicoll

Jean Sturgis was the Chief Examiner for O Level Art for the Oxford & Cambridge Examination Board, and taught art at the Westminster Under School. She also contributed acclaimed plant-drawings and watercolours to several gardening books, for authors including Rosemary Verey, Penelope Hobhouse and Esme Clarke. She contributed water-colour garden plans for books on Levens Hall, and Hatfield House, as well as for Hugh Cavendish’s A Time to Plant – Life and Gardening at Holker.


She returned to exhibiting in the 1990s, with a series of one-person shows in London – first at the Clarendon Gallery, and then at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery. In 2009 she was selected by Mary Burkett as one of five-artists in group exhibition at the Red Barn Gallery, in Melkinthorpe.

Settling in Kentmere where she developed a beautiful garden, Jean Sturgis continued both to paint and to etch. Her later works retain all their sense of engagement and particularity. She said: “Landscape; buildings in their setting, whether urban or rural; trees and flowers in their surroundings: these have always been the stimuli for my work.”

The Grasmere exhibition, created by son Daniel with the artist Julian Cooper, will open at the Heaton Cooper archive gallery on April 14, and will run until the end of June. Director of the studio, Becky Heaton Cooper, said: “This will be a fascinating insight to the life and work of a very talented artist whose work deserves wider recognition.”