way and another, it hasn't exactly been a vintage few months here
at the Big House on the Bad Corner.
Great British Spring and Summer put a bit of a damper (quite literally)
on the Festival of Fools. Although the weather, overall, wasn't
that bad it had a nasty habit of being wet and overcast in the morning
and then clearing up in the afternoon. As the Great British Public
tends to make up their colective mind what they're going to do each
day by sticking their nose out of the door after breakfast and scenting
the air, ‘clearing up in the afternoon' was a fat lot of use.
made about £350, which is not to be sneezed at (Memo to
self – must check out the origin of that bizarre phrase ...)
but it's a bit aggravating when you know that had the weather gods
been with us, we could have done so much better. However, mild-but-utterly-pointless
annoyance with the climate notwithstanding, we're very grateful
to everyone who gave up their time on the bank holiday to help us
out down at the Castle – we couldn't conceivably run the sideshows
without you. (By the way, while I still have you attention, *coughs
discreetly*, please be so kind as to note the date of the Christmas
Fair later in this newsletter. Thank you.)
whole purpose of getting involved in events like the Festival of
Fools is, of course, to make money – and you could be forgiven for
thinking that the be-all and end-all of the Centre is to generate
income. It's not of course, but unfortunately, out in the real world,
if we don't raise the money we can't keep the Centre open. Nice
as it would be to drift around ethereally in turquoise robes with
our minds on higher things (like – ooh – chips and mayonnaise for
instance) fund-raising is an unfortunate reality of our lives, especially
in view of the fact that other small charities are going down around
us like ninepins.
in deference to anyone who might occasionally wonder if
Gretchen - or anyone else for that matter – ever
actually sees any clients for healing … she most assuredly does.
She has appointments every hour on the hour five days a week from
9.00am to 5.00pm – except for the days when she goes out to her
little posse of housebound people.
addition to Gretchen we also have Sonia Norton
who sees physiotherapy clients at the Centre by appointment while
Kay McMahon sees massage clients at the Centre,
also on an ‘as-needed' basis.
if you are looking for either physiotherapy or massage, then please
ring Sonia (019467 23265) or Kay (019467 24226) direct to make an
appointment. They will then book a treatment room at the Centre.
pursuance of our Grand Plan not to spread ourselves too
thinly, we once again haven't had a big fundraising event
this summer (which would almost inevitably be washed out anyway)
but instead have been concentrating on other things like making
our major fundraiser, the Christmas Fair, as good as it possibly
can be. And then there are the bees.
into bees in a big way. We'd been thinking about setting up a hive
for a long time, but last year's dire summer with its distinct lack
of the fuzzy little pollinators tipped us over the edge and we decided
that Something Must Be Done. As one does.
a short time later Gretchen found herself sitting next to a local
bee-keeper at dinner one evening and before they'd made it through
to the pudding, he'd been appointed our Official Bee Bloke (hereinafter
referred to as the OBB).
few weeks later, the OBB came to lunch here at the Centre - armed
with an empty hive, an infectious enthusiasm and many stories of
Bees I Have Known - and proceeded to sell the idea of bee-keeping
to a highly receptive audience. The net result was that we now have
two hives, purchased from local suppliers, which came flat-pack
(did you know that you could buy flat-pack beehives? No? Well now
you do …) and were painstakingly nailed together by our Wednesday
volunteers. The two nuclei – which are sort of ‘starter sets' of
bees, each with its own queen – arrived shortly afterwards. Oddly
enough, I believe they're Slovenian bees - tough little operators
who have what it takes to cope with the Cumbrian climate (lifebelt,
galoshes and a sou'wester presumably…).
course, they arrived when I wasn't here, which is a shame because
I understand that with everybody in their bee-keeping suits, it
looked like a nuclear decontamination team up there. Imagine the
hours of innocent fun I could have had with the tabloid press and
just one well-placed, artfully grainy snapshot …
PHOTOGRAPH THEY DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SEE!!!!”
next time …
upon a time, of course, bee-keeping was a relatively cheap hobby.
These days setting up two hives with all the necessary kit, plus
the bees, will set you back a four-figure sum; but fortunately the
critical importance of bees is so well understood that finding the
money wasn't a problem and we once again have to thank the Sellafield
Charity Snowball for their enthusiastic support.
Mind you, they've got first dibs on the honey …
you'd like to come up, admire the hives and talk bees at any time
– just give us a ring. We can bore for England on the subject, especially
Andrea - who now speaks fluent Bee, albeit with an Austrian accent,
which must be jolly confusing for Slovenian bees.
I think I may have mentioned in passing, just very
occasionally, that we have the world's most talented gardener
in the form of Ralf Bidder . When he isn't out
wrestling the weeds into submission or driving the caterpillars
from the broccoli with a (very small) horsewhip he's in his workshop
producing not only beautiful furniture but also a wide selection
of smaller items. Most recently, he's turned his hand to clocks
… and they're just gorgeous . Each clock is unique, because
Ralf's way of working is to look at the piece of wood he's chosen
and then decide on the shape and form of the finished item. The
clocks in particular would make ideal wedding or anniversary presents
AND he accepts commissions. You can see all of his current work
website ” or – alternatively – from now until after Christmas,
you can come and see a selection here at the Centre. We're usually
open every weekday from 9.00am to 5.00pm – but it's probably best
to ring ahead just to make sure one of us will be here – especially
if you're coming from any distance.
We may well have one of the most eclectic groups of volunteers
in the whole of the North of England. Not only do they come in every
shape and form known to mankind and from every conceivable walk
of life – they're also prepared to turn their hand to virtually
anything – from donning a bee-keeper's suit and tending the new
arrivals at the top of the garden to weaving, weeding, envelope
stuffing, knitting, embroidery, card recycling, hedge trimming and
crochet. They also help out at our fundraisers like the Festival
of Fools and the Christmas Fair and keep us supplied with wheatbags
gather en masse at the Centre on Wednesdays (an average number for
lunch is about a dozen), and work on whatever is needed and/or whatever
the weather will permit (we don't drive anyone out into the rain,
honestly …). Tasks are suited to ability and no-one need ever fear
that they won't be able to cope. It's a great way to get out of
the house, make new friends and learn new skills while at the same
time doing something useful. If you'd like to join us, or know of
someone you think would benefit from a convivial few hours in friendly
and supportive surroundings, do please get in touch.
speaking of our volunteers and fundraising … can I give you our
usual shopping list of things we need?
yarns – whole packs, half packs and oddments. ALSO – those half-finished
garments you started but never completed for whatever reason.
Send them in to us and we'll finish them off and sell them on
our craft stall at Christmas. We're currently beavering away at
scarves, gloves, hats, shawls, jumpers, pullovers and even (as
I understand it) knitted Ferrero Rocher covers.
let me run that one past you again …
Ferrero Rocher covers. Yup. Just when you thought the
world couldn't possibly get any weirder.
crochet and sewing equipment – needles, frames, thread, scissors
– anything at all – eve unwanted
knitting and sewing machines. They are all grist to our voracious
materials – card, paper, crayons, paints, brushes, glitter, glue
– not only are we recycling cards, we're producing our own little
works of art for Christmas. Expect LOTS of sparkly bits …
jewellery – our bling display in the waiting room has turned out
to be small goldmine and constantly needs topping up. No item
porcelain, glass (decorative – not petrol station specials please).
else remotely saleable: nearly new, toys, unwanted presents, good
quality clothing, pictures, prints, picture frames … you get the
River Ride - Sunday 18 th September
is a new charity challenge just launched by the wonderful Cumbria
Community Foundation (which has, over the years, played a MAJOR
role in the continued survival of the Centre) that they hope will
become an annual fixture. It's a sponsored cycle ride – but with
a difference. There are three separate routes, to suit a range of
abilities and fitness levels, and all three follow the path of the
devastating effects of the 2009 Cumbrian floods, tracking affected
river courses and criss-crossing bridges that were either destroyed
or damaged. There is a 10 mile, a 40 mile (ouch!) and a 85 mile
(double-ouch!) route and the Centre is entering a team. Most of
them are sensibly only tackling the 8 mile ride, but the heroic
(and quite possibly certifiable) Ralf and Paul have signed up for
40 miles. Even Richard, our Senior Gardener, who can generally be
relied on to be the most sensible person in the building, is in
and the bees will be cheering them on from the sidelines, of course
… and Moira will be manning a feeding station and doing her Florence
Nightingale bit for the fallers-by-the-wayside. Mind you, it might
be a good idea for no-one to fall by the wayside anywhere within
her sphere of influence, because we understand that her bedside
manner could do with a little work.
you'd like to sponsor our team (and we'd be very grateful, because
otherwise the whole exercise is a bit – well - pointless
…) you can do so on the enclosed form.
FAIR – Saturday November 26th – Muncaster Chase: Okay people.
This is it. This is the big one. Cancel all other engagements. Doors
open at 10.00am.
year, our big “come hither” is a huge craft stall
featuring brand new, handmade goods produced by our volunteers –
both here at the Centre and in their own homes. Everything is made
from donated materials and all profits go straight into the Open
Door Fund for the benefit of the increasing number of people
who need our help but can't necessarily afford to contribute financially
towards the cost of keeping the Centre open.
enticements will be our usual crammed-to-overflowing cake stall,
refreshments throughout the day, live music, jewellery, cards, toys,
nearly new, books, CDs, DVDs and white elephant, along with the
eagerly awaiting Trivia Quizzes, 2012 Calendar and, of course our
Christmas Raffle … details of which follow in a moment.
will, of course, need lots of help – both on the day and
beforehand. If you can help with any of these:
Baking for the cake stall.
Minding a stall.
Selling raffle tickets
Serving tea and cakes.
Clearing up afterwards …
like to hear from you please.
even the most jaded amongst you would have to admit that our raffles
are always pretty good – but THIS year we've excelled ourselves.
I think I can say without fear of contradiction (because most people
round here wouldn't have the brass neck, quite apart from anything
else) that the prizes are the best we've ever had. Check out this
A brand new, extremely elegant, fascinator by the London-based couture
milliner Judy Bentinck
A superb quality Bavaria Prestige
ladies' bicycle - 21 speed Shimano derailleur gears, Shimano brakes,
side stand, luggage rack, front and rear lights (also suitable for
a man who's secure in his masculinity .... )
A copy of The Archers Archives by Simon Frith
and Chris Arnot signed by Tim
Bentinck , who plays David Archer (and just
happens to be married to Judy …)
A first edition hardback copy of Emma
Darwin 's critically acclaimed first novel
The Mathematics of Love , which Emma will personalize
for the lucky winner.
A signed hardback copy of Katie
Fforde 's lastest novel - Summer
A signed copy of actor/director Steven
Berkoff 's Tough Acts.
A signed copy of actor Edward
memoirs Slim Chances.
A set of 48 Derwent Coloursoft pencils in an elegant
wooden presentation case.
A side of smoked salmon.
A 'Snuggie' supersoft blanket with sleeves.
A bottle of whisky.
are photographs of the prizes
more observant amongst you will have noticed a bit of a thread running
through the prizes and those of you who have REALLY been paying
attention over the last couple of years can probably work out what
that thread is.
It's our Centre Manager's slightly startling alter ego ,
the “International Woman of Glamour“.
we've mentioned before ad nauseam (and generally in tones
of bemused disbelief), in her Other Life (and isn't she lucky
to have one?) she's the Co-Administrator of a literary website
Libris which means that she knows a lot of authors
and actors. She is also, perhaps even more bizarrely, an Associate
Member of The Romantic Novelists'
Association . As such, she went to their insanely ritzy awards
ceremony at The Royal Horseguards Hotel in Whitehall, where Tim
Bentinck was the Master of Ceremonies. Also present was
his immensely talented wife Judy
plus the then chair of the RNA Katie
Fforde and - well - you get the drift.
most amazing part of this, of course, is that so far, we've managed
to keep her down on the farm (and if you recognize THAT reference
you must be –as they say in Cornwall - ‘some old').
, tickets are £1.00 each and the raffle will be drawn
at the Christmas Fair on the 26 th of November. Just let us know
how many tickets you want (they're available both singly and in
books of five) and we'll put them in the post to you. Due to the
arcane terms of the Gambling Act 2005, you mustn't send us any money
until you return the ticket stubs. Bad Things will happen to us
if you do.
Calendar: James Roberts' local photographs in our 2011
Calendar were such a resounding success that we decided to use seven
more for 2012. This time, we've gone a bit arty-farty and all the
images are really striking black and white ones.
again, they're all local subjects. Spiral bound for easy display
and A3 when opened out (ie: thesize of this piece of paper) they
are £6.50 if you collect them direct from the Centre yourself,
or £7.50 if you would like them posted to you. You can, of
course, order them on the enclosed form. (And a big ‘thank you',
of course, to James for his permission to use the photographs.)
Oh, and I forgot to say that you can see the pictures here.
Quizzes: Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Centre's
world famous quite famous not-really-famous-at-all-but-v-entertaining-anyway
Trivia Quizzes, so once again we're offering two – one for the clinically
insane, attractively named the ‘Abandon Hope', and one ‘ordinary'
one for everyone else. The ‘ordinary quiz' has 100 questions, varying
in difficulty from “ Everyone knows that ” to “You
can't be serious!” The ‘Abandon Hope', meanwhile, sports just
50 questions but they cover the range from “You can't be serious!”
to “You WHAT?”. The quizzes are £1.00 each,
plus postage and packing if you want them sent to you.
finally ... nothing to do with the Centre, really ... but
our old friend Joan Capp of Bootle Refugee Aid Cumbria UK (BRACUK)
is trying to raise money to build a school in Islamabad. It's going
to take 80,000 bricks to build the school and Joan (who has been
tirelessly raising funds and sending aid out to stricken areas of
the globe since the early 1990s) is asking people to buy bricks
at 25p each. If you'd like to help, there's a collection pot at
the Centre, or you can contact Joan at Bootle Refugee Aid Cumbria
UK, Hycemoorside House, Bootle Station, Millom, Cumbria, LA19 5XG,
or phone on 01229 718248.
it for this time around. We seem (she said, touching wood as if
her very life depended on it) to have triumphed over the Mailing
List and – in theory at least – if you've received this Newsletter
it's because you want to. If, however, we still haven't
got it right, do let us know (and PLEASE DON'T SHOUT – because your
face will stay that way) and we'll remove you forthwith, not to
mention at once. In addition, please also let us know if you'd like
to receive this Newsletter by email ... we have the technology.
only remains for us to be in the annoying vanguard of those wishing
you all the very best for Christmas and the New Year. See you on
the other side . . .