Friday, 27 November 2015

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Your pond life is no match to majesty of our Lakeland

There’s a school of thought held by charitable types, church people and other assorted kindly folks, that if you’re blessed with good fortune you should share it willingly.

But share with uppity rascals from the London borough of Croydon? Don’t think so.

Forgive the scathing assertion but St Francis himself would draw the line at sharing his blessings with that lot.

They – as reminder – are the upstarts who reckon Cumbria should donate its Lake District name, fame and undisputed glory to their run-down south London urban sprawl... because Croydon has a couple of park ponds. Quite chuffed with them they are too.

Ian Bone, of the South Norwood Tourist Board, in Croydon said: “We’ve got two fantastic lakes here for fly-fishing, walks, everything you could wish for.

“The so-called Lake District in Cumbria has in fact only one lake, Bassenthwaite Lake – all the rest being styled meres, tarns and waters. We have the right to also call ourselves the Lake District.”

Over my algae-infested tarn! What a nerve these southerners have. How dare they flex their feeble muscles in attempts to snatch jewels from our Cumbrian crown? Just who do they think they are?

In truth we probably need to ask where they think they are... or more appropriately, where they think we are?

Geography wouldn’t appear to be the strongest suit of folks down London way, a goodly number of whom said in a survey they thought Oxford was the city closest to the Lakes and Hadrian’s Wall was in Cornwall. They don’t get out much, poor lambs.

Mind you, given that high speed trains only gather their super-rapidity by failing to stop at stations, it might well be the case that Oxford is a Londoner’s nearest stop for Ullswater.

But – and I confess I’m no expert – to my limited knowledge, Hadrian’s builders never soiled their hands nor sullied their trowels in Newquay.

The pasties those industrious Romans packed for lunch came from Cranstons, in Brampton. When they flagged for want of pick-me-up, they called in at Lanercost for a double espresso and slice of lemon drizzle. And those are the facts... Croydon style.

It is, of course, easy to make silly mistakes founded on anything from slips of the tongue to long ago wandering concentration, when your geography teacher was sticking coloured pins into a map of the British Isles.

My mum still insists that when she and Dad travel to visit me in Cumbria, they enjoy a stop-off in Islington for refreshments.

This remained a puzzle for some time. No wonder it took them so long to get here, if they were detouring via north London on a route from West Yorkshire.

“But that’s south, Mum. You’re coming north.”

“That’s as maybe. Lovely bacon, brie and chutney baguettes though. Worth the trip.”

Much head-scratching and Googling later, it emerged they’d been lingering rather too long over rural foodie treats at an attractive spot in Ingleton, North Yorkshire – arriving at my humble abode late and without appetite.

Now for the prejudices: I’ll forgive my mother anything – and Londoners intent on pinching the best bits of northern life nothing.

But it doesn’t need me to tell them what to do with their Lakeland pillaging plans. Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, has a much more eloquent style of riposte.

“South Norwood has three ponds,” he said. “We have England’s longest lake in the shape of Windermere; England’s deepest lake, Wastwater; 14 other lakes and hundreds of meres, tarns, and other bodies of water.

“I’m sure the ponds of South Norwood have their merits and it’s flattering that they wish to emulate our natural environment, albeit in a modest way.

“However, I don’t recall South Norwood being immortalised by great poets like Wordsworth and W.H. Auden and I can't believe it will be a substitute for the magnificent natural environment to be found here in Cumbria.

“So citizens of Norwood, please get yourself to Euston Station and in under three hours you can treat yourself to a slice of the real Lake District.”

To which I’d add one final piece of advice. Do try to get past Oxford before you leave the train.


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