Just back from a wonderful couple of days in Cumbria. The excuse was that Jeannie Pasley from Carlilse City Council had asked Cumbrian novelist and poet Angela Locke and me to go up and read poems for something called ‘Love Parks Week’.
I’d never heard of Love Parks Week, but apparently it happens in lots of places around the country and puts on events in parks and other green spaces to entice people to come out and enjoy them more in the summer.
Our venue was the lawn right under the vast east window of Carlisle Cathedral, but it wasn’t daunting: everyone was very friendly, there was a great PA system that actually worked with a mic you could actually adjust, and Jeannie was there to greet us and get everything set up. Amazingly, the weather was perfect – cool but dry, turning (at times) warm and sunny. And we got a wonderful audience – people drifted in and out but the maximum was up to around 40, and many people stayed for the whole hour-and-a-half.
It was lovely to read with Angela, a well-known local poet who has also just published a beautifully-written and deeply engaging travel book, On Juniper Mountain, about her travels in Nepal and how she came to found the charity Juniper Trust.
Afterwards I was able to spend some time with Angela and her husband Colin at their fine old house under the slopes of Bowscale Fell at Mosedale, near Penrith. We did some walking in the Mosedale Valley with the dogs and I was able to enjoy the gorgeous garden they’ve made in front of this beautiful traditional cottage – which was once painted by Sheila Fell, with L.S. Lowry in attendance. I have to say Lowry isn’t my favourite artist and even Fell gets pretty depressing, so the reality, with the warm evening light falling across the drifts of honeysuckle, was idyllic in a way that I definitely prefer, though neither artist would have countenanced it in their work!
Anyway, a big Thank You to Carlisle City Council, and please invite me back! And thank you also to Angela and Colin, the perfect friends.
Oh, and for more about Love Parks Week and what might be on near you, go to http://www.loveparksweek.org.uk/