We’ve just come back from a little unplanned holiday in the Lake District where amazingly (and uncharacteristically, I might add) the sun shone every day, blazing down on us from a clear blue sky as we walked up hill and down dale for miles. But now, as I look out of the window from my desk, all I can see is Manchester rain bouncing on the zinc table outside and the garden is soaking wet, putting a real dampener on my mood.
It’s funny how everything always looks so much better in the sunshine, doesn’t it? I often think I’d be bubbling over with uncontrollable joy if I lived in a sunny climate – but hang on, maybe not – I’m remembering that awful fortnight in baking 45°C heat in a Turkish basement room with no air- con ……
The Lakes were lovely though. We stayed in Near Sawrey, just around the corner from the first house that Beatrix Potter ever bought herself –Hilltop.
Japanese tourists are obsessed with her apparently and sure enough there was always a large group of them worshipping at Peter Rabbit’s last known address whenever we passed by. Hilltop is lovely inside in that dark antiquey farmhouse sort of way.
This is her actual bed:
And I love the wallpaper in her bedroom- i think it’s a William Morris design:
You can see where she got a lot of her inspiration from; the house guide left her books open at particular illustrations that showed a certain piece of furniture or a garden scene that she had copied directly from Hilltop, like this:This is the gate into the garden and the bee skep ( like a primitive beehive) which looks just the same as it appeared in her book:
And this is the dolls house that appears in The Tale of Two Bad Mice:
We then went out into the garden.You can almost imagine Peter Rabbit popping up amongst the cabbages in his little blue coat, can’t you?
I loved the long flowery borders that flanked the garden path up to the cottage -true cottage garden style in all its summer glory:
Mr Fruitygardener insisted on taking us (me and the dog) on lots of arduous route marches up into the mountains which I felt he must researched from an SAS or French Foreign Legion training manual. He called them ‘walks’ but I strongly disagree- they were definitely route marches – with even Ted, our sturdy rescue dog, refusing to get out of bed on the last morning in protest- I rest my case.
But as light relief we had a day off, going to see John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, on Lake Coniston – here’s the little steamyacht gondola that plies its way between Coniston pier and the house. John Ruskin was an amazing man, a Victorian philanthropist and philosopher, who advocated adopting a national health service , free education for all, votes for women and many more great ideas that he never saw happen in his own lifetime. He really was a man before his time . It was almost as if the huge strain on his mind developing and then fighting for all these wonderful concepts to come to fruition brought on a form of acute anxiety that he never recovered from. He bought the beautiful Brantwood on Lake Coniston believing that “if only I can bathe in the waters Coniston, I believe I shall be healed .” He never was healed, but the beauty of the place certainly soothed him.
The cottage gardens go right down to the Lake shore and the pretty jetty where the steamyachtgondola pulls in:
So that was my holiday. Back to work now, if I can ever tear my eyes away from the garden!