Saturday, 28 November 2009

Lake District Storms Update - National Trust Letter/E-Mail

Dear Hadriana,

I’ve just spent the day with Jeremy and the team at Wordsworth House looking at the impact of the floods here in Cockermouth and in the wider Lake District.

The damage in the town is shocking – I really feel for all the families and residents, some of them our staff and volunteers. And the stories of heroism are still coming out – everyone working to help each other. We’re still putting together a roll call of all the damage. Incredibly luckily the water stopped just a few inches short of the main rooms at Wordsworth House. But the cellar and shop were flooded, exterior walls are down and the garden is coated in silt and criss-crossed with wool.

Aftermath of the flood at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth. (See photo.)

We went to Coniston and around Loweswater and met our farm tenants, the Beards, who told us about the time they’d had. We’ve lost paths, bridges and stone walls that will take months to rebuild there and in Buttermere, Borrowdale and Ullswater – and there’s more to be discovered where we’re still waiting for the floods to recede.

What’s impressed me so much is how our staff and volunteers right across the Lakes have joined the big clear-up effort helping us, our tenants and neighbours start getting back to something like “normal”. This is messy, depressing work but everyone’s smiling despite it all. And we’re already planning how we’re going to get repairs done – we’re going to need lots of help. But the countryside is open for business now – I heard one of our staff in the south has just booked a holiday cottage for this weekend! – brilliant. And we’ll be opening Wordsworth House as planned on March 13, the team are so determined.

Many of you have already asked how you can offer donations or volunteer help. You can find all the information you need, as well as regular news updates, at National Trust Lake District Floods

We’ve already had loads of wonderful support with people from all over the country offering to come and clear up or giving money to the Lake District Flood Appeal – we really appreciate this. Despite it all Cumbria remains buoyant and ‘business as usual’ is the message I took home with me. Come and visit not only to show your support, but also to enjoy this special place – it needs you.

Thank you for your support,

Dame Fiona Reynolds
Director General
National Trust

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sic transit gloria machinae (Not So-OK Computer)

Our little house in Haltwhistle is now up for sale. It's an ex-council house (which we've owned for five years) and we will be very sorry to leave here. Our neighbours are marvellous and the house is very warm and cosy!

Above: A view over to Haltwhistle Burn out of one of our side windows.

My computer (laptop) finally crumbled and gave up the ghost a few days ago (BTW just read Robert Harris' book "The Ghost" and thoroughly recommend it). It is one of the many reasons why I have not been blogging. Using hubbie's laptop at present. New one is on the way hurrah!

Above: More great views of Hadrian's Wall. I'm trying to remember which "lough" it is. I think it is Crag Lough pronounced "loff" (lake) and "crag"(obviously).

I've written the above in italics. My husband has pointed out (since I originally wrote the post) that it is the view of the Wall overlooking Cawfield Quarry. You can see the cars parked on the other side of the quarry.

Above: Another view of our B&B, on the borders of Northumberland/Cumbria. It is literally a stone's throw from Hadrian's Wall. It is also on The Pennine Way. The ruins of Thirlwall Castle, a Reiver Castle, (its stones are Roman) is hiding behind the trees on the right.

We are also looking into setting up language courses (Spanish, French, Italian and Latin) to run alongside the B&B. I've also started language tutoring - Spanish GCSE... (which is marginally like the "old" style O-Level Course).

We popped down to London at half term to see friends and relatives. I started to write a post a few days ago about being in London but lost the lot. (Stop press! There may some saved. It has is below. Some repetition but never mind.) I was reminiscing about my College days in North London - Hampstead. I also got to go to the Language Fair at Olympia, Kensington, where I picked up some great ideas and tips. The marvellous chap on the Greek and Latin stand (www. was most helpful. Minimus and Cambridge Latin Course here I come!

We have had such a superb Summer welcoming guests. Plus there are always lots of meetings to go to. Such as the one the other night over at The Corbridge Angel Pub (this pub is very up-market....not really to my taste...I prefer The Wallace Arms) I did get to meet some German archaeology and tourism delegates from LIMES (the ancient German Roman Empire Frontier)...and Lindsey Allison-Jones and Paul Bidwell. The latter two are great scholars and teachers of all things to do with Hadrian's Wall.

The Volunteer Guides for Hadrian's Wall in the Tynedale area, of which I am one (a bona fide Yellow Badge Institute of Tourism Guide), have been shortlisted for "The Pride of Tynedale Awards" which is being held this Friday at Hexham Race Course. I've also been invited along to the Lunch Awards Ceremony so I'm dusting down my best frock and royal blue "Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd." fleece!

Yes. I know. I owe you lots of stuff. Promises. Promises. One of these days I might surprise you and it will all be here.

P.S. If you want to know more about Whitley Castle (an un-dug-up-Roman fort called Epiacum) and the joys of it. Look at a leaflet about it here at this website: It is a downloadable PDF file.