It’s been raining and cloudy here in Cumbria over the last week or so. As the rest of the country continues to bake.

We took off, on Friday, to Grange in Borrowdale, via Keswick. They say it always rains for the Keswick Convention – and yes, it poured.

As we walked from Grange to Seatoller, along the River Derwent, Peter started to calculate how long this water, passing us now, would take to reach Workington. He reckoned about 10 hours.


We found an old slate mine, and just as she was leaving, an Australian woman from Adelaide. Her accent, and the atmosphere of the quarry, took me straight to Hanging Rock. When I was in Oz in 1979 the first film was not so old. I remember driving to Hanging Rock. There was the sign for the town, and beneath it – an expression of Aussie wit – a hanging rock. The BBC version is rich and enjoyable – but like the 1975 film and the 1967 Joan Lindsay novel – frustrating in its hints at the supernatural.

A good quarry, though. It was around here that the graphite for the Derwent Cumberland pencil was first mined.


We visited the church in Grange. I love the view of the yew tree through the East window.


And picked blackberries – called ‘blackites’ up here.


As we drove home over Honister Pass, stopping in Buttermere for a pint on the way, the light was dramatic on Loweswater.


The sun shone on Mark and Kimberley as they were married on Saturday at St Michael’s. Mark is our organist and this wedding has been owned by the whole congregation over recent weeks.

The priest said not to post anything on social media until after 8 pm  so I’m safe to share these few photos, of Kim arriving in the sweetest little white mini … (which, I gather from someone who knows better than I, ‘looks like a beautifully preserved example of the rare 1275GT’!)


and looking gorgeous as she waited to process down the aisle.


And here’s St Michael’s in all its glory as the wedding began.


A lovely touch – lighting a candle for each of the families as the service began, and one for them both, once married.


Later that day, Peter and I headed off to St Bees Head. We’d heard that Fleswick beach was worth visiting, with its RSPB reserve.

We parked at Tarnflatt Hall and walked a circular route, around the cliff, with views of Workington to the north. Lots of yachts out sailing from Whitehaven.


The cliff fell away, not a yard from the path.


Cleo strayed uncomfortably near the cliff edge a couple of times. I really didn’t know if she realised quite what a drop there was. But no point worrying, really or keeping her on the lead. As Peter said ‘If not duffer, won’t fall …’.

Kittiwakes wheeled around below us, with their delicate beauty.


The views were great – to Scotland, to the Isle of Man. Up here, on St Bees Head, we worry about the lack of sand eels, the warmth of the water. Kittiwakes are now on red warning. Their numbers have plummeted.

I share with Peter my reading of the latest edition of The Economist.


The Economist is written corporately – no one writer takes the credit for any particular article. It’s a good policy. The journalist who wrote the article “In the Line of Fire” argues that the world is losing the war against climate change. Wild fires spread over St Bees Head in mid June. They are flaring up all over the world. 18 currently sweep through California, near Athens, from Seattle to Siberia. Heatwaves are killing people: 125 in Japan as temperatures soar above 40 degrees C.

Global warming causes weather patterns to go haywire. Whatever Trump believes, human use of fossil fuels has set this process in motion. Without urgent action now, it will only accelerate. As the Economist quips we are ‘living in a fuel’s paradise’.

Yes, the use of alternative energies and low-carbon technologies has increased, and public concern is much more aware than before. Many American cities and states have reaffirmed commitment to Paris, despite Trump’s withdrawal. 70 countries or regions now price carbon. Research is developing in ‘solar geoengineering’ which is designed to reflect sunlight back into space.

The Economist concludes its editorial:

Averting climate change will come at a short-term financial cost – although the shift from carbon may eventually enrich the economy, as the move to carbon-burning cars, lorries and electricity did in the 20th Century. Politicians have an essential role to play in making the case for reform and in ensuring that the most vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the change. Perhaps global warming will help them fire up the collective will. Sadly, the world looks poised to get a lot hotter first.

The Church of England is doing its bit. It will disinvest from fossil fuel companies by 2023 unless the latter can prove they are tackling climate change in line with the Paris Agreement.

The Guardian’s article here is sober reading.

It is hard to know what to do, personally. And hard to anticipate a world where biodiversity is diminished even further through warming seas and hotter lands. Where water becomes increasingly politicized as a commodity, a precious resource we take so much for granted. As I prepare The Lark Ascending for friends from Suffolk to use, we hear that the Leeds Liverpool canal has closed from Wigan to Skipton this month – a small drop in the immense worldwide ocean of a problem that humanity faces.

And so we turn off, and turn to stuff to entertain us, rather than face into the bleak scenarios that are coming fast over the horizon, like wildfires that overwhelm.

The seas off Cumbria are too warm for sand eels. The kittiwakes, guillemots, razor bills and cormorants are suffering. I wrote this poem a year or so ago, about the terns that used to be numerous on the Esk estuary.


Eskmeals dune creates the lagoon
            of highwater tide
                        where once the terns
                        and tipped
                                    sand eels
                        up and away – 
but now no more.
            No more
                        little, arctic, common
                                                swallows of the sea
                        where once
            they swerved
                        and turned
                                    in sea breeze
                                                plummeted quick
            to lift
                        silver from the sea.

Local people say the RSPB will disagree
but local people say the terns are no more
because they used to take the first clutch
two, three eggs. Local people turned out
to take the eggs, but not beyond Mayday.

The terns would lay
                                    would lay
                                                would lay again.

When the chicks had hatched, by then
                        there was food.
                                    Sand eels.
                                                Whitebait from the sea.

A London delicacy. Terns’ eggs: the harvest
stopped by law, and those first chicks hatched and died
of hunger too late for terns to lay again.

Who knows? It’s also true
there are no sand eels any more.


The RSPB at Fleswick suggests a number of birds to find  but August is not the best time, now the breeding season is over. We descended to the beach


which is a gem – indeed, there are reputedly lots of semi-precious stones to be found there.


The Isle of Man to be seen …


The water was clear and cool and Peter and I skinny dipped. And again, Cleo practised her swimming, splashing her paws up as the waves met her, and settling down to serious doggy paddle as she came out to circle us.

We walked back over Hannah Moor, and along Hannahmoor Lane. Who was Hannah? I wonder. My imagination started to write her story. The daughter of Tarnflatt Farm, perhaps, who made the fields around her own. A herd of Guernsey cows and calves graze the new grass – only six weeks after the head was ablaze with wild fire. We walked and talked with a bloke who had two springer spaniels. They were ever off into the fields, flushing up partridges. He told us of a lurcher he’d owned once, and how she was the best of dogs. ‘You’ve a grand dog there’, he said, as Cleo jogged along with us, checking us every few minutes.


I’ve been blogging for over three months now. It’s a fresh and immediate way of writing, and I’ve enjoyed taking photos. One’s mind thinks differently: events and happenings become potential material for the blog. It starts to inhabit your mind.

I’m learning too that this is not a private journal, such as Lady Anne Clifford kept. And so it’s time for me to have a privacy policy. Like so much of today’s world, it’s important to cover yourself – but also to ensure that friends and family can trust me that I’m not going to make them vulnerable or expose them in ways that leave them uncomfortable. If I’ve done that already – sincere apologies. Please do let me know.

I’d also value your comments and thoughts on the wording of this policy. Let me know – if you have more experience of this than I – if there’s a better wording I could use, or if I’ve left anything out, as I prepare to include it in Larkrise to Skipton.

I use with care and permission any personal data belonging to other people. If I have unwittingly infringed your online privacy, please inform me immediately and I will remove any image or material that makes you uncomfortable. 

I do not share personal information with third-parties nor do I store information that is collected about your visit to this blog for use other than to analyse content performance through the use of cookies, which you can turn off at anytime by modifying your Internet browser’s settings. I am not responsible for the republishing of the content found on this blog on other Web sites or media without my permission. 

This privacy policy is subject to change without notice.

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