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Bishop’s Castle and Keswick

July 22, 2013

My mother-in-law Edna Florence Bolton was born in 1914 (she used to claim that this caused the First World War) and died last year. She was much loved and is much missed. She took a lively interest in the world and all its wonders. Until her eyesight failed she was a prolific writer of letters to politicians and local authorities. She went on walking holidays in the Lake District and elsewhere until she was 90. She was a confidential listening ear to her nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She never lost the ability to laugh at herself. Nine members of her family, and Bess the dog, gathered in one of her favourite places, Keswick in the Lake District, to remember her on what would have been her 99th birthday, 17th July.

Some of us stayed in the camping barn at Low Bridge End Farm, St John’s-in-the-Vale.

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(photo by Mary Bolton)

Weather was brilliant and we had all our meals outdoors

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overlooking St John’s Beck and a field of mixed sheep and three young and mischievous pigs

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whose antics were very entertaining: sheep-chasing, gate-opening, playing with sticks, wading across the beck, occupying a hen-house, and getting back to the right place looking all innocent by supper-time. Perhaps because I’ve never found meat appetizing, I find it hard to understand how these playful and intelligent beings can be treated simply as commodities.

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It was all very Beatrix Potter.

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On our first morning, Peter and Mary and I walked the six miles over the fell to Keswick for supplies of food. The first excitement was seeing a red squirrel (centre of picture below); the second was rescuing a lamb whose head was caught in sheep-netting.

red squirrel

We were shyly observed by a sheep.

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We passed the little church of St John

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and crossed a beautiful dry-stone wall via a sheep-proof stile. I’m sure those pigs would have had no trouble getting over!

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A shop-window in Keswick had a notice saying “Get a Grip”. On the wall below it, this snap-dragon had got the message.

The bus dropped us at the road-end and we walked home with our shopping,

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noticing in the verges Red Campion, Melandrium dioicum,

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Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata,

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Salad Burnet, Poterium sanguisorba

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Lady’s Bedstraw, Galium verum,

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Tormentil, Potentilla erecta

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and Purple Toadflax, Linaria purpurea.

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Early the next day we visited the stone circle at Castlerigg. It is superbly placed, on a rare piece of level ground completely ringed by mountains and well away from busy roads. (Whatever possessed our ancestors to build Stonehenge so close to the A303?)

There was quite a different atmosphere when we returned that afternoon: lots of people about, some of them using the stones as picnic benches. A group of about thirty arrived as we left.

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We rode all the way round Thirlmere, stopping to walk down through woodland to the water’s edge.

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(This photo and the one below by Mary Bolton)

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Early the next morning I took Bess for a walk. Bess is nearly two, half collie and half Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She is scared of sheep and seems completely lacking in killer instinct unless the victim is a cushion. She is the funniest and sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

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Enchanter’s Nightshade, Circaea lutetiana – an annoying garden weed, but in a woodland setting it’s really quite … enchanting!

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Meadowsweet, Spiraea ulmaria, the plant from which aspirin gets its name.

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Harebell, Campanula rotundifolia.

All nine of us gathered at Castlerigg stone circle slightly later that morning.

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And later some of us went for a boat ride on Derwent Water.

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On the journey north Peter and  Mary and I stayed a night at Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire. They were having a beer festival. It was thirsty weather.

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As Mary said, stand still for long enough in this town and you may get yarn-bombed; look what happened to this bicycle.

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Mary 3

(This photo and the one below by Mary Bolton)

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I saw this paper bird in a shop window.

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Another shop had some book-art in the window.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Young permalink
    July 23, 2013 7:25 am

    What a fabulous story – loved the landscape and the wildflowers – a precious visit indeed
    Love Karen

    Sent from my iPad

  2. July 23, 2013 7:53 am

    Wonderful photos and description, Ama. Great to see yarnbombing! i particularly liked the sheep and foxglove pic. Thank you for naming all those flowers too! I knew some of them… by no means all. And you’ve solved the mystery of what that long-spiked purple ‘weed’ was that grew in my parent’s back garden when I was a child, coming up year after year and never, for some reason, pulled out. Blessings on your mother-in-law. Joxx

  3. July 23, 2013 8:15 am

    Thank you for dropping in, Karen and Jo. Plenty of flowers about, but where are the bees and the butterflies? I find myself cheered by the sight of a Cabbage White these days, despite the damage in my veg plot!

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