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

Ten Facts About Windermere and The Lake District

1. What’s in a Name?

The name ‘Windermere’ is made up of two words, ‘mere’ the Old English word for a body of water and the old Norse name ‘Vinandr’. We do not know who this character Vinandr was, but presumably somebody with a rather large ego who looked out over the lake one day and decided it belonged to him. Guests at Low Wood Bay and Waterhead can readily enjoy Vinandr’s view in a more civilized way over a nice glass of Chardonnay!

English: Lake Windermere,Lake District

Windermere, Lake District (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Fluffy grey sheep

Another inheritance from our Viking forefathers are the grey sheep that you will see dotted around the fells. These are the now native Cumbrian Herdwick sheep prized for their robust health and their ability to live solely on forage. The wool quality has unique qualities relating to durability – thick bristle type fibres forming a protective barrier layer in blizzards. They have been known to survive under a blanket of snow for three days while eating their own wool! Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: The Grave Tattoo

Holiday Book review of Val McDermid's Lake District based Thriller

Holiday Book review of Val McDermid’s Lake District based Thriller

Before setting off on holiday, I like to try to read a novel either about the place I am visiting or by a local author. I don’t mind if the details of the plot are factually correct or if the author has used artistic license, I am more interested in soaking up an atmosphere or the ‘sense’ of a place; a preparation for discovery.

For visitors to the Lake District, Val McDermid does this in her psychological suspense thriller The Grave Tattoo.  She mixes history, literature and murder most foul wrapped up in the culture and heritage of Wordsworth country. Many of the place names are actual – Lancaster, Kendal, Keswick, Coniston –Dove Cottage, Grasmere and even Zefferelli’s cinema in Ambleside get a mention. Continue reading