Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Convalescing... the Lake District...

So much blue!
So many lakes. And woods and mountains. So much nature.
We spent the half-term holiday in a cottage by Lake Windermere. There was a lot more walking planned when we booked it, but no one seemed to mind when it was all about convalescing instead. We ambled and sat around gazing at the water a lot.

 All the farm buildings on the Graithwaite Estate have been turned into holiday cottages - and we stayed in this one. A former..what?...hayloft or something. I immediately started photographing all the deep, beamed, window-seated windows with views of the endless woods around us.

There was a tiny cottage for two outside my bedroom window. It had a bird-feeder hanging from the corner of its roof and a woodpecker came to eat there several times a day - any dropped nuts were eaten by a tiny harvest mouse that appeared at the same time from a hole in the stone wall underneath. The eaves under our own roof were zooming and rustling with house martins. We came across lots of deer and all sorts of water-birds too. It was all pleasantly rustic. 

Another of my favourite things was the wood burner and accompanying basket of logs. I frequently made the cottage so hot while I was playing with it, husband had to open all the doors and windows.

Of course we had our own fishing tarn. Because who hasn't?

There's our fishing tarn. I also have a picture of me inspecting the tarn with a thoughtful air (probably imagining what might be down there...under the water...) And a picture of husband and eldest trying to push each other into the tarn. At no point did any of us consider any actual - uh - fishing.

There were gardens on the estate too - lots of rhododendrons and azaleas and other Daphne du Maurier-type-flowers so I could stroll about pretending to be at Manderley (something I tend to do wherever I am, to be honest). 

We spent a lot of time rambling around the woods that surrounded the estate. The boys played hide and seek, husband tried to keep track of the general direction and prevent us from getting lost and I took far too many photographs. The woods were full of bluebells, unfurling ferns, moss-covered rocks and tumbling streams. It was a bit like walking through poetry. Although I'm not going to go dragging Wordsworth into this - it's been done too many times already.  

And then there was Lake Windermere itself. We wandered around its banks, skimmed stones, fed the swans and the seagulls and caught the big modern steamer from Lakeside to Bowness for tea and cake.

I spent the evenings reading a lot of YA and wondering about the kind of story I might write next. In Darkmere, there was a description of a village which was flooded to make a reservoir - and during the long, hot summers, parts of old buildings would appear out of the water. It was cut during one of the many edits, so I was considering doing something with it for a future story.

One of the YA books I particularly enjoyed reading was Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgewick. The first story was full of lines like these -

           'Up, as the water thunders down. Up, through the cool green leaves, the summer's light lilting through the leaves and the air... She leaves her furs behind and walks naked with the moist green air on her skin. Through the trees of the wood which stretches along the whole lake shore, beneath the cliffs, beneath the caves, beneath the high, hanging caves... The light from the world outside has gone. She has come far, and now she is in the place that connects to the magic.'

Another story is of a girl who is ducked and then hanged for being a witch. It's full of ancient herbal remedies made from Knapweed, Feverfew and Meadow Saffron. There's a vengeful minister, a trysting tree and villagers dancing widdershins in circles.

         'She stared up at the sunlit surface of the pool, where the world shimmered through the water. She could see Grace leaping about, and then, as she sank deeper, Anna's gaze drifted dimly down, where, on the rock wall of the far bank of Golden Beck, under the water line, she saw a huge spiral line carved into the stone. A spiral.'

So when I wondered who might be found in a submerged village, I decided it would probably be all those women who were drowned as witches. I'd love to write a spooky, witchy story, full of greenness and magic and silvery-blue stretches of water. But who knows? I'll make some notes and see if they lead anywhere...



  1. I've never been to the Lakes. It is something I would love to do though. It looks idyllic, the perfect spot to recover and take it easy. Hope you are feeling much better now. I used to work at a hotel called Manderlay. A big, old house covered in rambling ivy and with magnificent views towards the sea and Falmouth. It's changed it's name now; funnily enough I am going there next weekend for Sunday Lunch.

    I do like your ideas of a submerged village. It could be a great setting for a ghost story. x

  2. What a gorgeous place, makes me want to go there right now and live in that tiny cottage with the dormouse for company.
    I am patiently waiting for your submerged village book already, love tales like that so make sure it becomes a reality okay?
    fab photos and im glad you had a good time
    Gill @book_magpie