Tourist call that came good for troubadours...
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