Lakeland and its Poets. Visiting Lodore Falls and the town of Keswick

‘How does the water
Come down at Lodore?’
My little boy asked me
Thus, once on a time;
And moreover he tasked me
To tell him in rhyme.

Robert Southey, The Cataract of Lodore, 1820

Having a genuine interest in English Romantic poetry, one December weekend, I decided to go to the town of Keswick (pronounced as [‘kesik] or [‘kezik]) located in the Lake District, Cumbria. My choice of destination was motivated by the fact that the poets Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey lived there at the beginning of the 19th century and where their friend William Wordsworth, a famous poet, visited them.

Below, I will reflect on the visual landscape of the area and nature as a public good. Finally, I will consider critically the issue of taste as defined by the Lake Poets[1]. Altogether, this reflection should explain the social, cultural and economic divisions that I found in Keswick and its surroundings.

The visual landscape of Lakeland

The Lake District, also known as the Lakes and Lakeland, is a national park of North West England. I had a chance to see its northern part with the town of Keswick situated along the northeast shore of Derwentwater lake and surrounded by picturesque hills and mountains, scary caves and magnificent waterfalls.

Alfred Wainwright, a British cartographer and illustrator, dedicated 13 years of his life to exploring the landscape of the area and created seven volumes of A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells published between 1955 and 1966. Through fine detailing, Wainwright’s illustrations and maps depict not only the fells and paths of Lakeland but also the enigma of nature and its magnetism.

The cover of Volume One of Lakeland Mountain Drawings by Alfred Wainwright

My perception of Lakeland was conditioned by the fact that it was my first visit to that area. I was impressed by the beauty of unusual colours of nature which I have not seen anywhere in the UK.  The mountains of orange, green and brown with white snowcaps; the azure sky with lenticular clouds of white and grey shades reflecting in the surface of Derwentwater; black-and-white sheep feeding in the green meadows; trees and shrubs of marsh, sand and black; and pearl-white waterfalls altogether made up the palette of Lakeland in winter.

Continue reading “Lakeland and its Poets. Visiting Lodore Falls and the town of Keswick”

Welsh sketches. From Aberystwyth with love

Aberystwyth is a coastal university town in Ceredigion county of West Wales. If you decide to go there, please do not forget to bring a bit of cultural curiosity and a sense of humour with you. Be ready to meet nice locals there: witches, ghosts, deities, fiends, druids and courageous detectives investigating mysterious crimes. Louie Knight is one of them. He is the best private detective in the town and the main character of the Aberystwyth noir novels by British writer Malcolm Pryce.

In the fifth book of the series, Louie deals with the long-time disappearance of Ninochka, a daughter of Uncle Vanya, a Soviet museum worker from Ukrainian Hughesovka where Ninochka was possessed by the spirit of a dead Welsh girl named Gethsemane Walters. Uncle Vanya, or the man who introduced himself in that way, came to Aberystwyth to ask Louis and his business partner Calamity for help in search of Ninochka. As a fee, uncle Vanya suggested a very valuable sock worn by Yuri Gagarin during his first flight into space.

‘What a story!’ you may say. And you will be right. The Aberystwyth noir novels nicely convey the atmosphere of the town. They can be a good start for learning about its weather, places and legends.

Once you are in the town, go to the Pier from where a beautiful view of the promenade and the Constitution Hill is revealed. The sounds of the blowing wind and crashing waves may combine with the songs of starlings and cries of seagulls there. In evenings, if the weather is clear, wonderful sunsets can be seen from the seafront.

In late November, when I happened to be in Aberystwyth, the weather was mild and changeable. Sometimes it was sunny, sometimes rainy, sometimes cloudy, sometimes windy, but always welcoming.

Rain or shine, people walk along the Prom edged by colourful buildings of the student dorms, hotels, pubs, cafés and small workshops. Once you get to the northern end of the Prom, kick the bar. ‘Kick the Bar’ is a local ritual of kicking the railings performed by students to attract love. However, nowadays not only students but also town dwellers of different ages kick the bar as tradition says.

From the northern end of the Prom, you can easily get to the top of the Constitution Hill either by following a winding path surrounded by small shrubs or by using the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway. Students enjoy going up Consti, as they call the Hill lovingly, and observing picturesque sunsets in evenings and looking at stars shining at nights from the top. One sunny morning after the rain, I was enjoying coffee with the fresh air and the gorgeous view of the bay in the Consti café on the top of the hill. Time stopped and it was nice just to live the moment.

Continue reading “Welsh sketches. From Aberystwyth with love”