Holker Hall

P4113564

For our last full day in Cartmel we decided to visit Holker Hall, the local stateley home. We’d had a long day the day before so had a little lie in and so only set out after 11 o’clock. We could have driven to the Hall but it was another fine day and it was only a couple of miles away so we decided to go on foot – a little less carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere!

P4113529
P4113531

The building dates from the 16th century, and so originally Jacobean in style, but there have been substantial alterations and additions over the years, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a major fire in 1871 which destroyed the west wing and most of it’s contents, in 1871. It was rebuilt in an “Jacobean revival” style.

The land on which the house stands was originally owned by Cartmel Priory but following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII it was bought by the Preston family, who were local landowners. Through marriage the estate passed to the Lowther family and then to the Cavendish, the same family as the Dukes of Devonshire. Today the older part of the house is occupied by Lucy Carrington, the daughter of Lord Cavendish, the Tory peer.Like Chatsworth, the home of their relatives, the rest of the house and most of the grounds are open to the public – for a fee, of course!

We started by exploring the house. The west wing, although still used by the family, is open to the public. Lucy Cavendish lives in the older part of the house which is “out of bounds”.

This is the Library on the ground floor – a large display of books being de-rigueur for all grand houses. I wonder how many were actually read? I bet many f them were just on display to show how cultured the owners were!

P4113556

One particularly fascinating exhibit here, for me, were the microscope that had been owned and used by the brilliant, but eccentric, scientist, Henry Cavendish (I’m sure he was on the autistic spectrum). Couldn’t avoid reflections, unfortunately.

P4113554

The Drawing Room

P4113532

The dining room – the painting over the fireplace is a self portrait by Van Dyke

P4113533
P4113534

The main staircase. All the carvings in the rebuilt wing were created by local craftsmen.

P4113550
P4113551

Upstairs – the Long Gallery, a recreation of a typical feature of grand Elizabethan and Jacobean houses

P4113541

The Wedgewood Bedroom

P4113537

Named after the collection of blue and white Wedgwood Jasper ware in the Dressing Room.

P4113538

One of the grand bedrooms

P4113543

“Queen Mary’s bedroom” – where the wife of King George VI stayed when she visited in 1937

P4113547

Then we explored the gardens. They are very extensive – 23 acres with a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape and woodland – and we really didn’t have enough time to see everything. But on a sunny Spring day, with flowers and blossom coming into bloom, we enjoyed wandering around.

P4113561
P4113566
P4113570
P4113580
P4113576
P4113577
P4113571
P4113568
P4113575
P4113579
P4113572

We stayed almost to closing time and then headed back towards Cartmel through the pleasant countryside, with a good view towards Hampsfell

P4113581

Coniston to Black Crag via Yewdale and Tarn Hows

P4103513

Last Wednesday promised to be a fine day, so we drove from our cottage in Cartmel over to Coniston. A couple of miles from the village I had to stop to snap a photo of the Lake.

Untitled

We parked up on the edge of Coniston, donned our boots and set off on the path up Yewdale.

P4103474

There’s the Old Man – no cloud on top today!

Untitled

A good view of Holme Fell ahead

Untitled

Carrying on up the valley through pleasant woodland

P4103478

Looking across the valley to Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite

P4103479

Helvelyn and Fairfield in the distance

P4103480

Looking back towards Wetherlam

P4103481

and there’s the Langdale Pikes appearing over the top of Holme Fell

After an hour or so we reached Tarn Hows which was created in the 19th Century by James Garth Marshall, at that time the owner of the Monk Coniston estate, from a number of smaller tarns. Today it’s a popular tourist spot with a car park that makes the relatively easy walk around the tarn accessible, and, especially as it was a fine day during the school holidays, so there were quite a few other people around

Untitled

We stopped for a bite to eat before setting off along the path that skirts the western shore of the tarn.

P4103490

At the top end of the lake we made the decision to carry on and climb up onto Black Fell.

After walking up hill through scrub land and through woodland

Untitled

Black Crag, the summit of the modest fell, came into view

P4103493

We climbed to the summit which is reputably one of the best viewpoints in the Lake District. And on a day like last Wednesday I would definitely not argue with that!

Untitled

The views in every direction were astounding. I snapped a panorama with my phone. You’ll have to click on the photos to get an idea of what we could see, even if a photograph really can’t do the views justice.

Looking towards the Coniston Fells, the Langdales, Helvelyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe

Untitled

and towards the Eastern Fells, and four lakes (Windermere, Esthwaite Water, Coniston Water and Tarn Hows)

Untitled

No question it had been worth the effort to walk up to here.

P4103497
P4103499
P4103500
P4103505
P4103510

We stopped for a while, soaking it all in before turning round and retracing our steps back down to Coniston, taking the path along the eastern side of Tarn Hows this time

P4103515

and then back down Yewdale

P4103522

Getting close to Coniston

P4103525

Reaching the village we decided to grab a meal before driving back to Cartmel and, although it was busy (school holidays, remember) we managed to bag a table in the Yewdale Inn. A bit of a wait for our food, but worth it.

We were lucky to have arrived just before rush hour!

Untitled

What a great day!

A walk around Cartmel

Our first full day staying in Cartmel, we decided to get out for a walk. Our cottage was at the foot of the limestone ridge of Hampsfell, so we set out on the path which ran right past our front door and which would take us across the fields and up the hill.

P4093441

As we climbed, looking back, we could see the group of buildings where we were staying

P4093442

It didn’t take too long before we started to approach the top of the ridge which is covered by an expanse of limestone pavement

P4093443
Untitled

It was windy on top of the ridge and given the ways the trees had grown, it clearly usually is!

P4093453

Walking along the ridge Hampsfell Hospice came into view

P4093454

The building of the folly was commissioned by the pastor of Cartmel “for the shelter and entertainment of travellers” in 1846.

P4093451

It commands 360 degree views over to the high Lakeland fells to the north and Morecambe Bay to the south, particularly from the roof, which can be accessed by climbing some rather precarious stone steps.

Untitled

We stopped for a while, sheltering from the wind while we had a bite to eat and taking in the views. Long range visibility wasn’t too good but we could still make out the fells in the distance.

P4093457

and over the Bay – although the tide was out revealing the extensive sands and mudflats

P4093458
P4093459

Looking down to Cartmel

P4093456

After our break we set off again walking along the ridge. Passing other walkers, as is usual, we exchanged greetings with other walkers and a couple of fell runners. Then I heard a shout a short distance away. Someone wanted to speak to us so we waited and were joined by an elderly lady. She asked where we were heading and as we were taking the same path she asked whether we minded if she joined us and if we might help her to climb a difficult stile on the descent. Of course we agreed. As we walked we chatted and it transpired that this sprightly lady was 86 years old. She had always been a keen walker and was still getting out and about, today having walked up from Kents Bank, a good few miles away. When we reached the stile she got over without any assistance but we were there to provide reassurance and help to arrest a fall in case she slipped.

Here she is on the left of the photo

Untitled

We continued down hill with her, enjoying her company, chatting and exchanging experiences. Reaching the bottom of the hill we continued in the direction of Cartmel and parted company when we reached a cemetery where her husband, who had died only 2 years before, was buried. She was going to visit his grave. We said our goodbyes and continued on. A chance encounter on the hills which had been a rather lovely experience. I hope I’m as efit and energetic as this lovely lady and able to get out on the fells when I’m 86 (no! I’ve a few more years to go!)

Untitled

Another mile or so along a quiet road and we reached Cartmel in the early afternoon and we decided it was a good time to stop and have a brew! Refreshed, we decided to continue our walk, heading across the racecourse and along the tracks through the woods and fields towards another hill, Howbarrow to the west of the small town.

Untitled
P4093461
P4093462
P4093464
Untitled

After a stiff climb we reached the summit of Howbarrow

Untitled

It’s a modest hill, only 558 feet high, but we were again greeted by extensive views over the Bay (the tide now in) and over to the Fells

P4093465

Looking over the Leven estuary

P4093466

My photos across the bay didn’t come out so good as the light had turned flat and grey and we were looking into the sun.

P4093467

We had several options to return to Cartmel, all a little convoluted, which tested my rusty map reading skills. Our route took us through pleasant countryside of green fields and woodland

Untitled

and small groups of farms and other buildings

P4093471

Eventually returning to, and crossing, the racecourse

P4093472

(not sure I’d have been able to clear the fences!)

Untitled
P4093473

We returned to the village to pick up a few supplies from the small, but well stocked, convenience store, before heading back to our accommodation.

A good “figure of 8” walk, about 10 miles in length but not too taxing.

Spring Break

Untitled

It’s been a long haul from Christmas this year with Easter being so late – I wish they’d fix the date! So I was glad to be able to take a week off work last week to go away for a few days. We found ourselves a cottage for 4 nights just outside Cartmel at the foot of Hampsfell.

Cartmel is a small, attractive village to the north of the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay, which is something of a “honeypot” with an old Priory church, old houses and other buildings, a number of touristy shops, a Michelin 2 star restaurant, four pubs and the smallest racecourse in the UK. The village is just to the south of the Lake District National Park, although our cottage, one of a small group of properties, was just inside the National Park boundary. Historically the Cartmel peninsula, together with nearby Furness, the other side of the Leven estuary, were part of Lancashire. Cut off from the rest of the county the area was often known as “Lancashire over the sands”. Following local government reorganisation in 1974 it was absorbed by the newly created county of Cumbria.

This old map shows the pre-1974 county boundaries and includes “Lancahire over the sands”

Image result for old map of lancashire

Although seemingly cut off from the rest of the county the area was accessed via routes over the sands of Morecambe Bay. The tide recedes from the bay leaving behind a vast area of sand and mudflats criss-crossed by a number of river channels and notorious for it’s quicksands. Until the Furness railway was opened in 1857, crossing the sands was a major route of communication. It was a dangerous crossing, though, and many people were trapped by quicksands and a rapidly rising tide, losing their lives. According to Wikipedia Cartmel apparently means “sandbank by rocky ground“, from the Old Norse kartr (rocky ground) and melr, reflecting it’s location a few miles north of the bay.

We were lucky to have some decent weather – cool, but sunny – so managed to have a good break taking in some walks, a visit to a stately home and even some art! So, lots to write up, but for a starter here’s a few photos we took in and around the village and our cottage.

Untitled

Untitled
P4093473
Untitled
Untitled
P4093460
P4113581
Untitled
P4093440
P4093439
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Oysters at O’Grady’s on the Pier

Last Monday in Galway was a busy day. I met a friend for coffee first thing before heading over to NUI Galway late morning to prepare for my workshop in the afternoon. It seemed to go well.

In the evening I’d arranged to meet my old friend Veronica who was born and bred in the city and lives in Salthill. We always meet up when I’m over and go out for a meal. We both love seafood so usually go to one of the many great seafood restaurants in the area. This time Veronica had booked us a table at O’Grady’s on the pier at Barna, a few miles west of the city.

We had a most excellent seafood meal and I started, as usual, with a plate of oysters. Veronica said she didn’t want a starter but might pinch one of my oysters. In the end, they were so tempting she stole two!

As the name suggests, the restaurant is situated next to the pier on the harbour. Unfortunately, being late January it was too dark for me to take in the coastal scenery (I really have to go back during the summer!). But I could see the pier. It looked familiar and, indeed, it was as it features in the final scenes of the film starring Brendan Gleeson set in Connemarra – The Guard

Back in Galway

Untitled

Last Sunday I travelled over to Galway on the west coast of Ireland for what has become an annual trip to the “City of the Tribes” to run a workshop at the University. It’s a great opportunity to see some friends who live there and mooch around what is probably my favourite Irish City.

Only problem is that due to having to fit into the course timetable my visits have all been in the winter – normally February, but this year I was there a little earlier in the year. I really must make an effort to get over there when the days are longer so I can see this stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way at its best. (I’ve promised my friend Veronica that I definitely will!)

I took the plane from my least favourite airport to Dublin and then caught the express coach over to Galway. It was windy leaving Manchester which meant a bumpytake off in the Aer Lingus twin engined turboprop. But the short flight wasn’t too bad. It was cold and sunny with blue skies in Dublin, but as we travelled west on the coach I could see clouds in the distance. By the time we arrived in Galway it was cold and grey and starting to rain. I checked into my hotel, and then set out for a mooch. It was just after 4 p.m and there was about an hour and a half to go before it would be dark so I wrapped up warm, and wandered across Eyre Square and down Shop Street and Quay Street down to the small harbour at the Claddagh (the streets in Galway do exactly “what they say on the tin”, by the way).

Untitled
DSC05309

I stopped and took in the view over to the picturesque row of houses known as the Long Walk and then decided to brave the weather and take a walk along the coast to the seaside suburb of Salthill.

Untitled
Untitled

After walking to the end of the turbulent Corrib river, where it enters Galway Bay, I turned west and set out along the path that skirts the coast, passing Mutton Ireland and on towards Salthill. A little further on I diverted off the path to take a look at the Famine Ship Memorial in the Celia Griffin Memorial Park, Gratton Beach.

Untitled
Untitled

As I carried on towards Salthill I passed a plaque, engraved with a poem – ‘The One-Armed Crucifixion’ -by Paul Durcan, accompanied by an engraving by John Behan. It’s part of the Galway Poetry Trail which I’d used as the basis of a walk around Galway last year, but I hadn’t come across this particular plaque as I hadn’t wandered out this far.

Untitled

There were a couple of more plaques further on along the coast road and I must have passed them, but wasn’t paying attention and missed them. Rather negligent of me, but there’s always next year!

Reaching Salthill I carried on along the coastal path, passing the Aquariam and various other seaside attractions in the small resort, until I reached the sea diving platform. It was dark by now so I couldn’t see too much and little point in trying to take photos! I wandered over close to the sea to listen to the waves breaking, and was startled by someone appearing from out of the sea. A brave soul, the water must have been freezing. I stopped for a little while peering into the dark and contemplating life and the universe as you do before turning round and retracing my steps back to the City.

Reaching the city centre it was time to get something to eat. In the past I’ve treated myself to fish and chips at McDonaghs chippie (it is the seaside, after all). But I’m trying to be good and lose a couple of kg, so resisted. Instead, I had a home made noodle dish in Xian Street Food, a rather nice little Chinese fast food place that had opened on Quay Street since my last visit.

Untitled

Afterwards I continued wandering, taking the path along the Corrib as far as the Cathedral before cutting back across to my Hotel on Eyre Square where I settled down in front of the TV to catch the latest episode of Les Miserables on the BBC. (Yes, I know I was in Ireland but the hotels usually have the main UK TV channels).

It had been a long day so it was time to turn in for the night. Another busy day to look forward to on Monday.

Untitled

Huis Marseille

Untitled

There are two photography museums in central Amsterdam – Huis Marseille and Foam – both on the Keizersgracht. Huis Mareille is the longest established and is located in a couple of adjacent 17th Century canal houses. During our day in Amsterdam at the end of December we decided we’d visit to see the current exhibition of work by African photographers and also to have a look at the buildings. I’d have liked to have visited Foam as well, but time was limited. I’ll have to save that for another time.

PC273428

Amsterdam’s first photography museum was opened in 1999 in the old canal house, Huis Marseille, at Keizersgracht 401. The house, which was
built around 1665, was originally owned by a French merchant called Isaac Focquier, who named the house after the French port he must have known. In September 2013, the exhibition space was was extended by incorporating the house next door, at Keizersgracht 399. Although adapted as modern exhibition spaces, both houses still include original features, such as the ceiling stuccowork in the entrance hall and a painting on the ceiling of the Garden Room.

There’s a garden at the back of the house with an 18th Century “garden house” which has been renovated and also used as an exhibition space.

Untitled
Untitled

The exhibition, Recent Histories, features images by African photographers from the museum’s own collection and also works from the Walther Collection (New York/Neu-Ulm).

The museum website tells us that

Until the last decade of the 20th century African photography was generally seen in the context of travel and ethnological photography, and usually done by Westerners.

but this exhibition reveals different aspects and interpretations of the continent by 15 African photographers, particularly

the influences that social, economic, and political developments are having on landscape, public space, architecture, and daily life, and what these developments mean for their own identity.

I didn’t have time to make any detailed notes or to take too many snaps of the images (always seems odd, photographing photographs!) However, my favourites were probably the photographs of buildings by Mame-Diarra Niang , who, although she was born in Lyon, and lives in Paris, was raised between Ivory Coast, Senegal and France.  The photos were from her series Metropolis, shot in Johannesburg and At the Wall, taken during taxi journeys in Dakar. I really liked the way that some of the photos looked more like abstract paintings than images of real buildings.

Untitled
Untitled