Sunday, 1 April 2012

April, A-Z and Ambleside

It’s April 1st which means the start of the 2012 A-Z Blogging Challenge, and this year I’ve decided to have a theme: the English Lake District. It’s a beautiful area of lakes (as its name suggests!) and mountains which covers an area of almost 900 square miles in the county of Cumbria in North West England.

The southern part of the area is about 60 miles from where I live and I know it very well. I’ve been going up to ‘the Lakes’ since I was in my teens. My parents bought a caravan there, which I ‘took over’ from them in the 80’s and I went up there as much as I could, with my own two daughters (and often one or more of my friends or theirs).

I’ve also set several of my novels there: ‘Fragrance of Violets’, published in February 2012 (see left side panel), ‘Changing the Future’ (due for release in June 2012), and my current ‘work in progress’.

So come with me on a journey of discovery around this wonderful area in North West England. I’ll give you some interesting facts about many different places, as well as some personal reminiscences.

Today we start with: Ambleside, a small town with a population of about 2,600, situated at the head of Windermere, England’s largest lake.

To the south of the town are the remains of the Roman fort of Galava, dating from AD79, one of the small forts built to guard the Roman road to the coast. The name of the town, however, comes from the Norse “A-mel-saetr’ meaning river – sandbank – summer pasture.

In 1650 the town was granted a charter to hold a market, and it became a commercial centre for agriculture and the wool trade.

Nowadays, tourism is the lifeblood of the town, which provides a base for hikers and climbers, and it is usually very busy during the summer season. There are plenty of hotels, guest houses and restaurants, as well as 10 pubs or bars within a quarter-mile radius. In addition to the inevitable souvenir shops, there are also a number of shops dealing in specialist arts and crafts, and stores selling clothing and equipment for outdoor pursuits.

One of the most interesting buildings in the town is Bridge House, a small house built over the small river called Stock Ghyll. It’s said that at one time a family with six children lived here, with just one room downstairs and one room upstairs. Later it was used as an apple store, and in 1926 it was sold to the National Trust which now looks after it.

The photo of the right is an old postcard which I kept because the two people sitting near the Bridge House are myself and my friend and I think it was taken in the early 60’s. As the house is probably the most photographed place in Ambleside, we probably didn’t even realise at the time that we were being photographed, let alone that we were going to appear on a postcard! Artistic licence has changed the colours of our jackets to look like the modern, brightly coloured kagools.

We often used to go into Ambleside if it was raining (which it frequently does in the Lake District!) to do some shopping, have a pub lunch, and then spent half the afternoon in one of the coffee shops.

Find the other A-Z participants here


  1. Your moment of fame! Looks like a quaint little town.

  2. Hi Paula. It's lovely seeing pics of places I've only read about in books. I've not visited the Lakes District although I've passed not too far away. Great idea for a post.


  3. Lovely!

    This brought back memories of happy childhoods spent in the Lake District. I remember Ambleside well.

    I also love the sound of 'Fragrance of Violets' and have added it to my wish list to download very soon.


  4. What a lovely place and a delightful idea to blog through the A-Z challenge this way. Can't wait to begin exploring!

  5. Funnily enough I've been there, loved the place and it holds memories, not the best though .... Great start for the challenge!

  6. Hi Paula - we used to holiday with my mother's first husband's family, who owned Randy Pike - it's a hotel now - round the top of the lake .. perhaps you know it? on the way to Beatrix Potter's house ...

    Our trips to Ambleside .. we used to take a row boat and picnic and row out to the islands, swim and be towed along ... my father used to row at Oxford ...

    ... then one day 'my grandfather' was parked on the lake slipway and wanted to back the car out .. it wouldn't go - it kept slipping forward and we were in up to the wheels!! A memory ..

    But you've brought back our real life Swallow and Amazon days as kids ...

    Oooooh - I'd like to have a postcard with me in it!!

    Cheers enjoy the Challenge and I shall love remembering the Lake District with you ... Hilary

  7. How interesting. Thanks for the lesson. And to be on a post card! Pretty neat!

  8. Wow! I would love to visit England. Years ago, I entered myself and my sibs in a contest to go to England. My sister had a wonderful time there.


  9. Oh, I love this place already!

  10. Li - Immortalised for ever on a Lake District postcard LOL

    Denise - hope you'll enjoy your 'virtual' visit to the Lakes then.

    Lynette - glad it brought back memories. I've been reliving some of mine while I'm been preparing these posts.

    Claudia - hope your memories weren't all bad ones?

    Hilary - yes, I've seen the sign for Randy Pike dozens of times on the road to Hawkshead! Glad the car didn't slip completely into the lake! More about Swallows and Amazons when I get to my C post!

    Daphne - so glad you found it interesting, and there's lots more to come!

    Joyce - if you ever get to England, I'll take you up to the Lake District and give you a guided tour!

  11. Oh how I loved this post. If I ever make it to your side of the pond--I think I'll have to check it out! Wonderful post Paula!!

    Cheers, Jenn

  12. Amy and Jenn- thanks, hope you'll enjoy the rest of this virtual tour!

  13. I've visited many placed in the UK but always regretted missing the Lake District. I shall enjoy visiting vicariously this month. Too cool about that postcard.

  14. Great idea, Paula. My husband and I have traveled in England and Scotland, several times. I will be avidly reading your posts. Thanks for meeting me here and being my tour guide!

  15. It looks like its an awesome place to visit! I love this pics that you have posted and would love to visit the real place. It was nice going there with your blog though!

  16. Oh I'm excited to see your posts for the whole month now. I've never been anywhere really. :)

  17. That little bridge house is wonderful! It seems almost magical. We don't have things like that where I live. LOL. And, for you to be captured in a post card while on holiday there is great - your memory preserved for ever more. :)

  18. Awesome pictures and I can't believe you ended up on a postcard! So cool!

  19. Claire - hope you enjoy this month's 'visit' the the lake District.

    Sharon - look forward to being your tour guide. Will you give me a big 'tip' at the end?

    Brandi - lots more places to visit this month, hope you'll come back for more.

    Cassie - Hope you'lll enjoy seeing some of the Lake District

    Lorraine - the little house is cute. It's reputed to be the most photographed building in the Lake District.

  20. Lovely post, Paula. I've often read about the Lake District and how people vacation there, so it'll be great to learn more about it. It looks like such a pretty little town, so quintessentially English (at least as we think of it here in the States). Love that bridge house, too.

  21. Beautiful little town! And very unique theme for the challenge - Good luck!

    Coffee in the Garden
    In the Care of the Great Physician

  22. This month will be like a little vaca to England for me! far!

  23. Awesome theme and gorgeous pictures! Thanks for stopping by my blog

  24. I think by month's end, we'll all be able to feel like natives.

  25. Hope - I'm actually on another postcard too, might show you that one later!

    Elaine - I think the whole Lake District is quinessentially English, with the small towns and villages, stone houses and old churches etc.

    Christine - thanks - glad you like my theme!

    Jen - thanks, hope you'll return for more.

    Jo - hope you enjoy the vacation!

    Word Nerd - well, I've learnt quite a lot while I've been researching these posts, so hope you will too!

  26. Absolutely gorgeous... oh, my. I am especially interested because I may be visiting close to this area in September (my daughter has applied to University of Edinborough for her Junior Year abroad!)

    I can't imagine being amongst such history filled spaces. We just don't have anything comparable here in California.

    Julie Jordan Scott
    twitter - @juliejordanscot
    A is for Adelaide

  27. This looks like such a beautiful place to explore!! How cool you live so close to such a picturesque place.


  28. Ooh, I love your theme. I'm an American anglophile and hope to explore the country one day.

  29. Paula

    You've got a dedicated armchair follower. I've tried to roust my husband out for an OE to the UK with little sucess so shall enjoy you virtual tour. Will you post a pic of Beatrix's house?

    What a great idea for posts and one I could use to put pics of our piece of paradise for others to enjoy.

    We live in the fabulous Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's North Island.

  30. Thanks for the virtual tour of the beautiful town.

  31. How fun to be in a postcard! I collect postcards from places I've visited and I find them to be great souvenirs that holds as many memories as my own pictures, so I'd kill to have one with me on it! Great post.

    Thanks for visiting my place.

    From Diary of a Writer in Progress

  32. Julie - you'll be surrounded by history everywhere you go in the UK.

    Kathy - you're right, it is a beautiful area of England.

    Elizabeth - hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into a small part of England.

    Shirley - funny you should as about Beatrix's house - because I'm going to show it in my 'B' post!

    Maryann - you're very welcome, and thanks for visiting.

    Gina - I'm just the same, as I collect postcards too. I have hundreds of them, some over 50 years old now!

  33. Looking forward to these posts, Paula, as I love the Lake District but don't know it as well as you. Lovely photos, and how cool to be in that wonderful old postcard!