Geneally speaking, an English village is a small and compact settlement of houses which, in the past, has been based on agriculture, mining, quarrying or fishing. I used to think it was size that distinguished a hamlet from a village, but evidently the difference is that a village has an Anglican church whereas a hamlet doesn't. A typical village (in the past) also had a pub or inn, a few shops catering to local needs, and a blacksmith.
The main difference between a village and a town is that a village’s administrative system is the ‘parish council’ which is the lowest tier of local government, below town (or borough), city and county councils.
In the UK, there still tends to be an idealised image of the village, which is seen as being a haven away from the bustle of modern life, and is represented as quiet and harmonious, if sometimes a little inward-looking. Families lived in the same village for generations, and everyone knew everybody else.
The main Visitor Centre for the Lake District National Park is at Brockhole, between Windermere and Ambleside. It opened in 1969 and is set in 30 acres of terraced gardens leading down to the shores of the lake and with superb views of the Lakeland fells.
The house was built in the late 19th century by a wealthy Manchester merchant, who employed local landscape gardener Thomas Mawson to lay out the formal gardens, and landscape the rest of the 25 acres to provide stunning view of the lake and fells.
In the house, there are exhibitions about the Lake District, with film and slide shows and a wide variety of events is held every year. These include Easter treasure hunts, bird and animal recognition activities, water activities, musical concerts, and family fun days. For children there’s an adventure playground and climbing wall; for their parents, there are picnic tables and a café.
There are also Tourist Information Centres in most of the Lake District towns, including Ambleside, Bowness, Coniston, Grasmere, Hawkshead, Kendal, and Windermere, which provide a wealth of information of places to go, things to do, guidebooks and maps, transport, accommodation, and special events.
Our ‘local’ Tourist Information Office in Hawkshead was an Aladdin’s Cave of information, and I still have many books, maps and leaflets I obtained there. The office used to be near the main car park, and was always our first stop when we went into the village. The main reason was that the weather forecast information was always pinned up on the noticeboard outside the office.
We didn’t need to be told when it was pouring with rain though!