Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District

Jo McGrath : Tails of Cumbria

jo mcgrath guineapigLocal Broughton artist, McGrath, is having her first solo exhibition at Brantwood starting 11 January and going on until  9 March 2014.  Focusing on farm animals, her lively and affectionate style really brings out the character of her subjects and it is wonderful that she has landed this exhibition which hopefully will bring her wider recognition.

For guests at Sykehouse Cottage, her work can also be seen, and is for sale, at the Broughton Village Bakery.  (Look out for team Riggs’ favourite sketch of a Guinea Pig.)

For further information about Jo’s work. Please click on the link to her website or the Brantwood exhibition go to their website here.

Birk’s Bridge to the Newfield Inn

Hard Knott We started at the NT car park just above the beautiful Hobbit-like Birk’s Bridge and headed into the forestry land, marked on the OS map as Dunnerdale Forest and by the Forestry Signs as Hardknott Forest.  Much of the wood that was described by Wainwright as “young plantations” has now been cleared and neatly stacked up making for a rather beautiful, if working, landscape.  The Commission is now replanting the forest as a mixed deciduous rather than the stark fir crop to reflect the changing purposes of these fells. 

We used the level forestry roads rather than the narrower public footpaths as they are lovely for chatting whilst walking.  IMG_8561Good progress was made across the forest to Grassguards Farm with its little concreted ford.  Here we picked up the Grassguards Gill bridleway down into the beautiful gnarled trees and river walks around Wallowbarrow.   Here, we took the opportunity to lob some rather large stones in the river before retiring to the Newfield for half pints of CatNap and something-and-chips. WallowBarrow

The walk took one hour 40 minutes and we were helped by another member of the family was waiting to provide a lift to retrieve cars rather than having to walk back after a rather heavy meal!

Norman Nicholson: “a unique and unjustly overlooked Cumbrian”.

norman nicholsonThis January marks the 100th anniversary of Norman Nicholson’s birth in Millom and BBC is marking the occasion with a half hour radio programme presented by fellow Cumbrian, Eric Robson, on Sunday 5th January.  The Corporation’s press release describes him as “the unique and unjustly overlooked Cumbrian” and I guess a short radio documentary might help raise his profile a little – though calling the programme “Provincial Pleasures” is, I feel, damning the man with faint praise as “Provincial” was a phrase he fought against all his life.

Nicholson was championed by TS Eliot, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney though he remains little known because he chose to stay in the little town of Millom than move south.  On the western edges of the Lake District, in this desolate, post-industrial landscape, Nicholson wrote a lovely meditative poem about his craft and about his middle name (which was also his mother’s maiden name) “Cornthwaite”:  “… I lop, / Chop and bill-hook at thickets and rankness of speech, / Straining to let light in, make space for a word, / To hack out once again my inherited thwaite / And sow my peck of poems, not much of a crop.”

This poem was first published in “Sea to the West”, 1984 and can be found in Collected Poems. pp.354

To learn more about him, you can visit the Norman Nicholson Society’s website.  The link is here.

© The Trustees of the Estate of Norman Nicholson, by permission of David Higham Associates Limited