The run up to going away, as ever, was hectic, trying to cram five weeks’ work into one. Two media events to report. Firstly, my Hangout on Air for the Society for One-Place Studies, on involving young people in historical research. As this is a worldwide society, we vary the times of these hangouts to try to oblige as many people as possible. Turns out that, at 9.30am BST, that’s not many people but others have tuned in afterwards on YouTube. Then came my second radio exposure of the season, allegedly to advertise a very small Buckland Brewer History exhibition next weekend. I am waiting to listen to the presenter, humming along to Maggie May, when I am asked (off air), ‘I don’t suppose you have ever had to wear anything unusual to work?’ Err, well yes, all the time. This was apparently the topic of the current phone-in, so my spot turned into a discussion of bum rolls, coifs and swording and spindling. I promise I did try to get back on track and talk about the history group instead but what a publicity gift!
On Friday it is off to our stop-over site at Tewkesbury, which knocks 150 miles off the following day’s journey. Either the chimes of Tewkesbury Cathedral have got quieter or we are further away, or more hard of hearing, than on previous visits, as they seem less intrusive.
Next day and it is off to a supermarket near us to stock up. Pizza seems like a good idea, just a shame that the one we chose was larger than the fridge. I have a way of solving that but not one that is commensurate with watching what I eat. We run the gauntlet that is the stop start, roadwork-ridden M5 and M6. Then a comfort stop at a services near Preston. There are ten long spaces especially allocated for caravans. They contain three caravans, one of which is us and seven things that are patently not, by any stretch of the imagination, caravans. It isn’t as though there aren’t very large signs explaining the situation and ample empty car spaces very close by. I am tempted to remark, ‘what a strange caravan’ in a loud voice but I just manage to restrain myself. The next caravan owner that arrives and finds nowhere to park will be serious p****d off. We know this is the frozen north and folk are hardy up here but I am not sure that, despite the sun, this is really sitting outside in tee-shirt weather however many people are braving the still chilly wind as if this is summer.
I have picked Borrowdale as our destination, partly for its more northerly location and also because it is a Lake District site that we have not visited before. We are mindful that the instructions require us to ignore our sat-nav so we do, much to its consternation. I am diligently reading out the route and the road is getting narrower and twistier by the second. The countryside is stunning but Chris is required to use all his many decades of caravan towing experience. If this is the advised route (and it is) what on earth must the other route be like? We are far from being the largest caravan on the block. How do large vans and more cautious towers manage? We obediently ‘turn right over the bridge’. Chris is apprehensive because it says there’s a six foot six width restriction and the van is seven foot six wide. I point out that it does say ‘except for access’ and we soldier on, wing mirrors and caravan sides intact. I am a little concerned because we have arranged to meet Martha’s in-laws on this site and they may well be cursing me as they negotiate every bend. Incidentally there so should be a word to describe one’s relationship to the in-laws of one’s offspring. Suggestions on a postcard please.
I have to say the ‘interesting’ access was worth it. This is a truly beautiful, wooded setting, only yards from the footpath round Derwent Water. We have just got set up and the kettle on as Hazel and Martin arrive. Sadly we can’t offer them a drink as we only have two cups. We chat then head off to Mary Mount to eat – not the most inspiring name but great hunter’s chicken and stupendous views of the lake. Weirdly though, when we tried to book, we were told it was full but we could sit in the bar. In the event we sat outside but the restaurant seemed far from full. We finish the evening with a quick walk round part of the lakeside, heading in a clockwise direction.
We are back in time to see some of the annual cringeworthy, yet strangely compelling event that is the Eurovision ‘Song’ Contest. Inevitably, UK came near the bottom. The winner is Ukraine with an angst-ridden dirge. Second come Australia, I know, I know, since when was Australia in Europe? No idea, I didn’t invite them.