It seems like only yesterday that we were in Kendal listening to plays, sampling their mint-based produce and checking out local hotspots (we’d recommend keeping all southern accents on the hush during last orders at Dickie Doodles) for Come to Where I’m From Cumbria.
The playwrights whom we had the pleasure of meeting were Lee Mattinson, Zosia Wand, Joe Harbot, Ann Wilson and Louise Gallagher.
Afterwards, we asked them to tell us about their favourite places in Cumbria so we could compile this for you. So, here is a playwright’s guide to Cumbria…
The first photo is outside Rydal Mount in Ambleside. It’s also known as Wordsworth’s house. One of my closest friends got married there this summer and it was a perfect venue for her, she’s a great poet and advocate of literature events. The house and gardens are stunning. I fell in love with this place and could imagine Wordsworth strolling around and writing there. This is my loved one Rana in the photo and really my home is wherever she is, she’s just perfect. www.rydalmount.co.uk/
The next photo is at Roanhead, I think it’s the best beach in Barrow-in-Furness, it’s got great sand dunes, the rare natterjack toads and it’s a brilliant place to walk our dog Barbara. There’s lots of gorgeous places around Barrow, sometimes people forget and it gets overshadowed by BAE systems and the poverty in the town. It means the beach doesn’t get overcrowded though.
The final photo is Ravenglass, on the West Coast of Cumbria famous for it’s minature steam railway. I love this little town, it’s so peaceful and I always feel calm as soon as I get there. I like imagining living in all the different houses.
Easily be seen from miles around by the beacon that stands at its peak. It looks like a lighthouse, but is in fact a folly, built in memory of Sir John Barrow. From this peak you can see the Lakeland hills and out across the magical sands of Morecambe Bay. It really is amazing.
The Train from Lancaster.
The best way to reach Ulverston is by train across the sands of the bay and the best time is at sunset, when the sky is on fire and the colours reflect in the water and set the carriage alight. It’s the most spectacular experience and never fails to silence everyone on the train. Nothing else matters when you’re captured in the midst of that sort of beauty.
Gillam’s Tea Room
At the bottom of Market Street. A traditional Victorian tea room complete with wood burning stove. It serves excellent teas and vegetarian dishes but if you’re more of a meat eater and coffee lover then head for:
Ford Park Café and Bistro
This is a five minute walk from the centre of town, through Ford Park, at the bottom of Hoad Hill. The café is situated in a Victorian Coach House adjacent to Ford Park House which is now a community centre. There is a fantastic adventure playground and nature trail in the park to keep children occupied.
The Market Cross
This is at the top of Market Street, slap bang in the centre of town. I love this spot because it’s where all the town’s wonderful festivals culminate. This is where the Town Band plays, where various community groups perform, where the Christmas tree stands and is lit during the Dickensian Festival every year, where street entertainer and local legend, Garry Gifford, takes the mickey out of the invisible fireworks lost in the November fog, where George slays the ridiculous cartoon dragon every April, where the Morris Dancers keep us entertained, where the rivers of light that make up the September Lantern Festival meet, and where you can look down during the first two weeks of May and see a cascade of handmade, individual silk banners flapping in the breeze in front of every shop.
Around the corner from the house I grew up in were some creepy woods and an expanse of grass known as ‘The Mansions.’ There were some swings, a slide and a big random rock which as a child I was convinced was Darth Vadar sent to systematically slay me. A sixth form folklore project later, I discovered it was ‘The Devil’s Stone’ which, if you pranced round on Halloween would vomit forth into the world the actual and original devil. Anyhow, the woods and surrounding fields were an exhilarating playground for me and my brother’s growing up, remain chocked full of happy memories and allowed us to spy on the posh kids who played tennis in the adjoining club. It was well into my teens that my Grandma disclosed ‘The Mansions’ was the original site of a grand mansion house where she used to shine up silver for a few bob.
Ripped to shit and reinvented as a Dorothy Perkins, Superdrug and Evans, The Rendezvous was the kind of cinema Dawson Leery would cream his slack for; an old school and vintage architectural feat. This place held/holds a special place in my heart for being the first cinema I ever went to catch a breath-taking screening of Teen Wolf which a quick Google of has just informed me was released in 1985 which means I was five. Looking back, I’m not sure Teen Wolf is appropriate for a five year old, given its glamorisation of van-surfing and raping girls in cupboards, but I remember loving it all the same and scranning my entire bag of Jelly Tots before the trailers had even started.
A Saturday jaunt round town was never complete without a trip to Mark Taylor’s which must’ve been the precursor to the likes of Selfridges because they had absolutely everything you’d ever want, and more, at low low prices. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t full of shit, but rather an Aladdin’s cave filled floor to ceiling with top quality gear. The basement housed enough toys to restock every Toys ‘R’ Us thrice over and had a wild array of them old school ‘trick’ things; bloody finger, fart gas, spider in an ice cube and the like. The ground floor was mainly sweets (ten Irun Bru bars for £1), crafts and the Mark Taylor Rayleigh bike shop. The stairs up to the first floor had a colourful box you could sit in and, for only 20p, watch a Tom and Jerry Cartoon. And the top floor was half book shop where I purchased my first ever book – George’s Marvellous Medicine – and half The Penny Farthing Café where you could feed a family of fifteen for £2.75. I might very well start a petition to bring it back…
Here are three things.
1. Meaburn, the village I grew up in.
2. Theatre by the Lake, where I went to Youth Theatre.
3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWbIXwBFDdQ This is not really a place. This is just a video of my teachers dancing. I don’t know why this was made.
1-The view from Arnside Knott and the rock in the shape of a sofa part way up. Every time you see Morecambe Bay from this angle it’s different, and stunning.
2-The Sun Inn, Kirkby Lonsdale it’s for brillaint food, friendly service and staff who really care – Avanti comes a close second for atmosphere.
3-Kirkby Lonsdale churchyard on a snowy night – magical.