Ulverston Lantern Festival


Last year we stumbled upon the Ulverston Lantern Festival when we tried to stop in Ulverston for fish and chips on the way home from a walk across the sands to Piel Island, found that all of the roads into the town centre were closed and chose to park on the outskirts and investigate.


This year we did much the same thing, this time on the way home from our trip to Roa Island.


I think that there’s more to it than this, but the part of the Festival we’ve seen is a huge parade through the town with people displaying their amazing lantern creations, accompanied by marching bands of drummers.


Some of the lanterns are amazing – witness the enormous Gruffalo above – but what I really like about it is the sheer number of people who are involved: it seems to be a superb community event.


Last year’s theme seemed to be toys, this year I think it must have been woodland creatures. I took lots of photos, thinking that they were coming out sharply despite the darkness. Oddly, the camera’s video function seems to have coped rather better with the light conditions:


Edit: WordPress doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge that this is a video. Click on it and a new tab will open in flickr where you will be able to watch it. (It’s only 15 seconds and you can hear one of the marching bands into the bargain.)

Ulverston Lantern Festival

Minimum Monument


“Minimum Monument is a poignant and moving display featuring thousands of figures made out of frozen water by the artist, her team of technicians and volunteers – a public intervention artwork which is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our planet and the communities it supports.”


“Néle Azevedo has be working from a temporary studio in K Village with volunteers and her creative team to make over 3,000 200mm tall icemen.”


“We’ve been working on the moulds for the past two weeks – getting them filled and frozen, then the sculptures were de-moulded and fettled by hand before being stored in freezers and the process starts over again. ”


“The icemen and women will be transported to Kendal Castle on Sunday morning.”


“On Sunday Azevedo will invite members of the public to place the beautifully crafted sculptures on the ruins of Kendal Castle where they can watch as these tiny ice figures melt and return to rain water.”


I’m not sure if this art is the kind of thing which Michael Gove recently derided as ‘modish crap’. Probably.


“Is this = to Turner, Ruskin, even Holman Hunt – of course not.”


Which limited frame of reference suggests that the underlying questions is: is this art Victorian?

Of course, Turner’s own art was controversial in it’s day. Had Twitter existed then, no doubt some self-publisizing, narcissistic, failed politician would have been using it to rail against Turner’s non-conventional vision.

(In a politically bleak year a lone high-spot was watching Gove skewer himself with his own back-stabbing machinations.)


Anyway, we enjoyed Minimum Monument immensely and there were a lot of other people there who also seemed to be thoroughly engaged and appreciative.


Naturally, I took a preposterous number of photos.








It was interesting to see how people had chosen to group the figures.

Almost all of the sculptures were placed on the walls, facing in to the castle. This couple…


…being a rare exception.

Eventually, we dragged ourselves away and walked down into Kendal…


…where there were numerous other activities on offer.

We added to a large clay sculpture…


…donned goggles for a 3D virtual reality flight over the Lake District, watched a three handed show (a mime I seem to remember) and visited St. Thomas’s Church to see this…


…enormous model of the moon by Luke Jerram.


A highly enjoyable day!

(The quotes at the top of the post are from the Lakes Alive website.)

Minimum Monument

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation


Any visitor to Barcelona will inevitably eventually confront the cities three famous artistic giants: Picasso, Gaudi and Miro. The Miro Foundation, a gallery which mainly, but not exclusively, features Miro’s art, is conveniently situated on the hillside below Montjuic. It was high on my list of places to visit during our stay.


TBH and I have visited a Miro exhibition before, at the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park.      That was mostly sculpture, as you might expect at the YSP, whereas at the Foundation Miro’s paintings are more to the fore.


I think we all enjoyed it, I know that I did, apart that is from Little S who was infuriated.


“It’s kiddy scribbles, Dad.”


He was particularly incensed by two very large white canvases. One with a single small blue dot slightly off centre, and the other with a single line across it. (A scribble in S’s view.)




Even S must have enjoyed the view from the roof terrace though.

Barcelona – The Miro Foundation

Liverpool: Dazzle Ships


Everybody Razzle Dazzle by Peter Blake (otherwise the Mersey ferry Snowdrop)


Dazzle Ship by Carlos Cruz-Diez

Dazzle painting played a vital role in the protection of British naval and trade vessels during The First World War when it was introduced in late 1914 as a system for camouflaging ships. This dazzle camouflage was employed to optically distort the appearance of British ships in order to confuse the German submarines who were threatening to cut off Britain’s trade and supplies. The optical illusion imposed by the ‘dazzling’ was intended to make the direction the ship was travelling in difficult for enemy submarines to identify. This would in turn lead to a difficulty in calculating an accurate angle of attack.

More here.

Liverpool: Dazzle Ships

Rare Duke of Ellington Butterfly Spotted

Lady's-slipper orchid

Every year I post photos of one of our local rarities – the lady’s-slipper orchids. Usually with an admonition to get out and see them whilst you can. This year, I’ve been a bit tardy and I’m afraid to say that you’d be a bit late by now. These flowers, Cypripedium calceolus – the little shoe of Venus, were once common in the North of England, but, having been on the brink of extinction here, are now making a comeback thanks to reintroduced specimens grown at Kew gardens. The project began in 1983, but it was only as recently as 2009 that reintroduced plants produced seed-pods. The orchids have been planted at numerous, generally secret locations, with Gait Barrows being the well-publicised exception. The large yellow lip is designed to temporarily trap flies which are then well covered in pollen as they escape.


In all honesty, this evening walk wasn’t principally about seeing the orchids. The day before, whilst the boys and I were exploring the environs of Rydal Beck and spotting redstarts amongst the trees, TBH and A cycled to Gait Barrows and found there crowds of excited naturalists viewing the lady’s-slippers, but also pointing out to A and TBH a ‘Duke-of-Ellington’ butterfly. Otherwise known as a Duke of Burgundy. The Duke of Burgundy is in need of the same sort of helping hand as the Lady’s Slipper. Once associated with primroses growing in coppiced woodland, the decline in coppicing has seen the butterfly become reliant on cowslips growing in limestone or chalk grassland. Too much grazing, or shade of their food-plants, and the delicate balance is disturbed. I’ve never seen them in all my many visits to Gait Barrows and this evening was to be no exception.

I did find a brown silver-line moth:

Brown silver-line moth 

Since mine was an evening – rather than a weekend – visit, I didn’t meet crowds of orchid or butterfly enthusiasts. Just one other chap who, like me, was grovelling around on the floor taking photos of the flowers. He’d caught the train up from London that day and would head home again the next day. Just to see the lady’s-slippers. Maybe I don’t feel quite so bad about missing the Duke of Burgundies again.

Somehow, a month has slipped by since then. A busy month admittedly: Silverdale has two big weekend’s in June, first our Field Day which I was up-to-my-elbows in organising and then the Art Trail which, it seemed to me, was bigger and better than ever in it’s ninth year.

Meanwhile, in the fields roundabout, the tractors have been out night and day, harvesting the grass for silage. This one…


…belongs to the National Trust and has had a stay of execution.

Rare Duke of Ellington Butterfly Spotted

Christmas Eve Strolls

To Woodwell…

…with the whole family, who looked out the geocache hidden nearby…

Just past the solstice, the woods hold symbols of both autumn…

Dog Rose leaves.

And the regeneration to come…

…with what are surely new leaves on some of the honeysuckle.

On the cliff-top path we found a log covered with oyster mushrooms. We’re quite partial to a bit of foraging, but elected to pass on this occasion. We also spotted more jew’s ear fungus, which is allegedly edible, but which I always choose to pass..

I hope that you have all been enjoying more appetising looking repast over the holidays!

In the afternoon we attended the Christingle service at the local church, much of the attraction of which is the sight of a packed church entirely lit by hand held candles. We walked home by candle light – the kids loved it. My camera has a ‘candle light’ setting, which produces a ‘Joseph Wright of Derby‘ effect…


Christmas Eve Strolls

The Ruin in the Fog


I pass this diminutive ruined cottage in Eaves Wood regularly on my walks but have never got round to photographing it before. It has three small rooms the middle one of which has this hearth and chimney breast.

Whether anyone actually ever lived here I don’t know. Elsewhere in the wood can be found the foundations of an old summer house and some of the paths have clearly been very carefully constructed. There are also some old concrete water tanks for ‘the big house’, now the Woodlands pub. Clearly Eaves Wood was once a garden for the ‘the big house’ and perhaps this cottage was used by the gardeners?

I know that as a child a ruined cottage in the woods would have really fired my imagination which would soon have peopled it with a dramatic past. Perhaps the atmospheric conditions awoke my inner child. Of course, a ruin in the fog is a staple romantic image…

Like Caspar David Friedrich’s The Abbey in the Oakwood.

And since I haven’t yet found any photographs of a cloud inversion from Saturday on the net, here is the same artist’s The Wanderer, perhaps his most famous painting?

The Ruin in the Fog