Tourist call that came good for troubadours...

Rossendale Free Press - - The Laughing Badger - SEAN WOOD

YOU couldn’t make this up, and apart from restor­ing any faith you may have lost in hu­man na­ture, it demon­strates that, like the TV dog, I’m more than lucky...

The day was pretty good from the out­set, my Ir­ish band, The Cur­ragh Sons, were booked to play at Hawk­shead Brew­ery in the English Lake Dis­trict near Win­der­mere. Yes, I know, it’s a hard life, and be­fore you ask, yes, they could or­gan­ise it!

We set off early, for a bit of red kite watch­ing, or maybe even the odd golden ea­gle, both of which now breed in the Lakes, and I was also hop­ing to show the lads at least one red squir­rel - a species still thriv­ing in that neck of the woods - and per­haps a red deer or two. All this only two hours from Manch­ester.

Over a lunch of lo­cally caught brown trout, and with the sun crack­ing the crags, it seemed fool­ish to drive home to Glos­sop af­ter the gig, but with the Lakes be­ing like Beth­le­hem at this time of year, it was prov­ing dif­fi­cult to find ac­com­mo­da­tion.

That was un­til I called the un­sung he­roes at Ken­dal Tourist In­for­ma­tion, who told me of a can­cel­la­tion at Maggs Howe Farm, Kent­mere. For here be­gan the magic.

“Oh don’t bother with a taxi, we’ll come and pick you up af­ter you have fin­ished play­ing,” said Chris­tine Hevey, who runs the farm guest house and a camp­ing barn for four­teen with her hus­band Paddy, a Dubliner. (Check out www.mag­gshowe.co.uk for fur­ther de­tails.)

They picked us up at mid­night, af­ter an­other fan­tas­tic night in the Stave­ley Beer Hall, and drove us the four miles, al­most to the end of the val­ley, for a bite to eat, a few songs for Paddy, and, in keep­ing with the wildlife theme, a bot­tle of the Fa­mous Grouse.

It was to prove a long and en­joy­able night, made even more mem­o­rable when we wit­nessed our gui­tarist fall­ing up the stairs. It’s not big, and it’s not clever, but it was funny.

As it was dark when we ar­rived it was only on pulling back the cur­tains in the morn­ing that we re­alised where we were: be­fore us un­folded the panoramic view of the fa­mous Kent­mere Horse­shoe, so beloved of Al­fred Wain­wright, com­pris­ing the Yoke, Ill Bell, Frost­wick, High Street, Harter Fell and Kent­mere Pike.

High Street is an old Ro­man Road, and Chris­tine tells me that they used to hold horse races across the tops in days gone by.

And talk­ing of days long past; in 1206 the Baron of Ken­dal gave one handy bloke, Gnylpin, the en­tire Kent­mere Val­ley, ‘In con­sid­er­a­tion of his hav­ing slain a wild boar which in­fested the forests of West­more­land and Cum­ber­land’.

All we had to do was sing a few songs and we were given the key-to-the­door, in­clud­ing a rather de­light­ful full English break­fast.

Chris­tine’s gar­den was alive with swal­lows just re­turned from Africa, and goldfinches, and the mid-morn­ing sun high­lighted forty shades of brown on a dun­nock’s back, and lit-up the robin play­ing hide and seek amongst the un­der­growth.

Sean Wood and host­ess Chris­tine Levey

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop sean.wood @talk21.com

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