Holiday Book Review: Dances with the Daffodils

465131195-X2Amidst the plethora of writings about William Wordsworth’s life, both historical and fictional, this book, I believe, would please the great man himself – perhaps most of all in belated gratitude for the sister who offered up much of her life in loyal service and sacrifice. Even Dorothy’s celebrated journal was written with the declared motivation, ’to give William pleasure’.

Dances with the Daffodils, by Matthew Connolly, is a beautiful fictional recreation of Dorothy’s life, her inspirational love of nature and her complicated emotions surrounding the fierce loyalty felt towards her brother. Connolly introduces Dorothy to a fictive suitor and a strange fusion of lives – aspirations, yearnings, frustration and innocence – occurs at the moment their lives touch on that memorable day on the shores of Ullswater, in the reflection of the immortalised ‘host of daffodils’. Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: The Lakeland Odd Soks

the-lakeland-odd-soks-88A tribe of previously undiscovered creatures living in the heart of the Lake District have made their way into print in three books aimed at 4 – 9 year olds.

The Odd Soks, from different families and different species, are linked by their brightly coloured odd soks that they wear and the adventures that they find themselves in. The Elms – Rufus with his red hair and fiery personality, grumpy Mosscrop with his green hair shaped like a freshly cut haystack and Bud. Then there are the Paddlers from the streams and the Lowbs who live in the barns – Little Lowb constantly looking out for the good of his Odd Sok friends and family. Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: Felltarn Friends – fun for all the family!

How many of us have dreamed of writing and publishing a children’s book? Me, for one!

Now tell me, how many of us have actually achieved it? Sadly, I’m sure like many others, not me! However, meet two plucky women from Cumbria who had that dream and in December 2013 picked up the proof that the dream had become a reality.

Claire Mansfield and Amy Onyango are the creators of Felltarn Friends, a children’s activity book that will keep younger members of the family amused for hours on end and, I predict, will be ‘best friend’ to all visiting families to The Lake District who come across this little gem.

The dream becomes a reality. Amy and Claire with their newly published book

The dream becomes a reality. Amy and Claire with their newly published book

Cleverly crafted and beautifully illustrated, this 96-page book is literally packed with things to learn, craft and colour and discover. Claire and Amy have meticulously researched activities and family days out in the area, ably assisted by their children aged between 2 and 10. Continue reading

Review of Lancasters A Christmas Carol: “A Humbug worth tasting”

Tim Bell, General Manager at Lancaster House has been enjoying the spirit of the festive season in Lancaster.

In the ten years I’ve been here in Lancaster, I’ve watched with keen interest and excitement as the cultural scene and identity of our historic city has flourished. From a noticeable and admirable level of the arts back in 2003, it’s accelerated to a thriving music and theatre scene here in 2013 gaining national recognition and well-deserved accolades.

The Dukes, Lancaster from Google Streetview

The Dukes, Lancaster from Google Streetview

Without doubt, one of the catalysts and leading lights of this cultural surge has been The Dukes Playhouse. Established in 1971, the converted old church now has 3 unique theatres under its roof all complemented by the popular Gallery and bustling Café Bar. The Dukes has of course gained much of their national recognition for their annual Play in the Park which has been running for over 25 years and is now the UK’s biggest walkabout theatre show. We’ve been proud to co-sponsor this production over the last few years and even more proud that we’ve helped introduce some new fans to this national institution through our theatre breaks.  Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: The Wednesday Daughters

book_WednesdayDaughtersCover_newI never tire of the view over Lake Windermere on my drive to work. Some mornings it’s the hushed ethereal quality of the light on the water that determines me to internally freeze frame the forget-me-not moment. At other times it’s the dark mystery and foreboding of the Langdale peaks which trespass a stormy, churned up lake that takes the frame.

What better setting for New York Times best selling author, Meg Waite Clayton, to pen The Wednesday Daughters, her eagerly anticipated sequel to The Wednesday Sisters, the story of five friends who, over the course of four decades, come to redefine what it means to be family. Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: From High Heels to High Hills

From High Heels to High Hills: One Woman Walking the Lake District - in Her Own Style

From High Heels to High Hills: One Woman Walking the Lake District – in Her Own Style

It was the cover of this sassy book that first caught my attention and captured my imagination. I had toyed with the idea of packing a day sack and heading to the hills for some months but always stopped just short of planning a route. I’m not sure if that was because it was just easier to enjoy the view across Lake Windermere and the hills beyond on the drive to work but, more likely, a lack of confidence fuelled by the many thoughts that assailed my mind – ‘you are not outdoorsy enough’; ‘you will get lost and end up having to call out mountain rescue’; ‘people like you should stick to tea rooms and garden centres’.

Whatever the reason, my interest was piqued by the pair of spotty red, white and blue Dune stilettos (mud photo-shopped on!) pointing resolutely towards a magnificent Lakeland mountain scene and taking centre stage on the cover of From High Heels to High Hills. Tanya Oliver was obviously a lady after my own heart! Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: Haweswater by Sarah Hall

Story telling at it's best - Sarah Halls' debut novel

Story telling at it’s best – Sarah Halls’ debut novel

Sarah Halls’ first novel, Haweswater, is not for the faint hearted. It is a vivid picture of life, love, and death, of the small village of Mardale, in the Lake District. It is set in the 1930s, and it revolves around the intense and passionate life of Jannette Lightburn, her family, and community.

The town, cradled in its remote dale, is changed when in 1936, a representative, Jack Liggett, from Manchester Waterworks, arrives with plans of an impending new dam and reservoir. Janet is revolted by this man and his plans, yet is savagely attracted to him, and he to her, with her wild feral presence, and fierce love of her family, valley, and all that live in it. The love affair that they pursue, leads only to despair, and heartache for those caught up in its wake. Continue reading