Book Review: A Lake District Christmas compiled by Alan Cleaver

I bought A Lake District Christmas as a Christmas present for hubby. Cheekily I began reading it before he did, but he finished reading it first!

We both enjoyed the varied content including snippets from newspapers compiled from the local archives as well as extracts from the writings of famous Cumbrian residents.

I was particularly impressed by the writing skills of Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, a gentleman remembered in connection with the founding of the National Trust. Here he described ice-skating at daybreak.

While most of the content is from times past there is also a recipe for snow pancakes, provided by a living person. She gave a demonstration, which was broadcast on BBC Radio Cumbria before Christmas.

The book is a well-designed hardback. Its cover bears the words: A Lake District Christmas Tales and Traditions of Cumbrian Yuletides Past. It is published by Inspired by Lakeland.


What I read in February 2020 (Part 1)

This post includes reviews of three books, one nonfiction and two fiction.

Get Lost In the ancient trackways of the Lake District and Cumbria by Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park

This newly published book by two local authors with whom I am acquainted arrived in our house* on Valentine’s Day. Get Lost might not be a conventional Valentine’s Day greeting, but hubby and I enjoy walking in the Cumbrian countryside. This is a useful addition to our collection of walking books. It is beautifully produced, well researched and humorous. I read it from cover to cover in three sittings during weather, which was not suitable for walking far. Parts of the county are very popular with visitors. Here are lots of ideas for quieter places to explore in the county. The unnumbered chapters are full of information and suggestions of where to go, allowing readers to explore in their own way. Most of the walks are suitable for families or people who no longer climb the higher fells. Where steep climbs are involved these are mentioned. It is thoroughly researched and completely up-to-date. There are instructions for using a map and compass so that readers have no excuse if they are unfortunate enough to get lost! Cumbrian words are explained. Legends and folklore are included. There is an index and suggestions for further reading.

Lost and Found It started with a letter… by Tom Winter was a library book I chose in a hurry. I read it in a couple of days. The chapters are very short and the story is never predictable. However this is not a book for anyone shocked by bad language or outrageous content. Parts are very funny. The book is set in Croydon, a town I know patches of. Descriptions of it are rather harsh. I read it before Get Lost, but didn’t feel it merited a post to itself.

Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott is a book I first read as a child. I probably read the whole series, but had forgotten the details of the story. The release of the new film has prompted discussion both on and offline, so I decided to refresh my memory by rereading it. It is a book of its time – being first published in 1869. The language is not easy being old-fashioned American English. Occasional footnotes in my copy explain references to Greek myths, but there is little help with vocabulary. For example, a verse about Afghan’s must surely have gone over my head as a child. Now a relative has two beautiful crocheted Afghan’s made by extended family members in Canada, I know they are blankets. At times the book is rather preachy, but the characters are very human and their attempts to overcome their faults as they grow up are endearing. I shall probably read the sequel, Good Wives, because it is bound in the same volume as Little Women, but doubt that I shall seek out the later books.

*In case you are wondering, I bought it from a local bookshop.

What I read in March 2019 (Part 1)

I have already reviewed The Shepherd’s Life. When I took it back to the library I borrowed Lonnings and Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine.

The authors of Lonnings: A walk through Cumbria’s ancient trackways, Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park, are two of my acquaintances. This is an unusual book in that it has been hand-made (or should that be hand-crafted?) by Alan Cleaver. I read its 64 pages in a single sitting. It is well-researched, well-written and includes photos and verse, some in dialect. I intend to make a note of the locations of some of the lonnings with a view to exploring them. Some lonnings are similar to holloways. I have a post about holloways among other things.

Hand-made book with ribbon bookmark

Alan Cleaver is very entertaining on Twitter – @thelonningsguy.

By contrast Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman is fiction. It is a gripping story. I could hardly put it down and returned it to the library two days later having read it from cover to cover. There are slight similarities with other books I have read. I was reminded of Margaret Forster’s How to measure a cow and a book by Josephine Tey I read a very long time ago, possibly Miss Pym Disposes, but I am not quite sure.

The other book, which I have finished reading is Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book, edited by Robyn Wrigley-Carr. This was a book I failed to win on Twitter. However, when I saw a copy, it was so attractively produced that I bought it. I have been using it in my quiet times over several months. (There are 160 sections including at least one prayer.)

Book with end flaps

Although the editor has modernised some of the language, I found that much of it was still rather dated. The prayers had been collected together more than 75 years ago. There are some beautiful, familiar prayers, but the language would still be difficult for most young people. This is a book to give to an older person or for an ordinand to study. I shall return to it to find the prayers, which I knew in my youth and some which I particularly liked that were new to me.