After all the wind and rain, the sun has come out today, and here at Low Hall, there are carpets of snowdrops everywhere. Six mallards rose from the pond as I opened the garden gate, which was a very beautiful sight. Daffodils are coming up everywhere, and some of the early flowering ones are already in bud. They look like they will be opening over the next couple of weeks. The sheep in the neighbouring fields will be lambing soon, so the archetypal Lake District spring is literally on our doorstep.
Late February and March, through until the end of April are usually the best times to treat yourself to a spring daffodil break at Low Hall, the Lake District self catering country cottage just five minutes drive from William Wordsworths birthplace and childhood home, in the “gem town” of Cockermouth. Easter is usually gorgeous (and sells out), but around Easter is quieter, and you can still enjoy the lambs frolicking in the fields, the mountains and lakes, the daffodils, and the sense of new life emerging everywhere. Amongst the wide range of books in the cottage for your enjoyment are poetry books, including Wordsworth. Many are familiar with the first lines of his poem “Daffodils”
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
This is your chance to attempt to memorise some of the lesser known verses if you are so moved.
“Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
There are plenty of alternatives to memorising poetry. I was in Schills of Station Street yesterday, which is running monthly “in shop” wine tastings. Prince Charles visited the town last week, to admire the recovery of local businesses following the devastating fllods of November 2009. Almost all the businesses are back, and the town looks very beautiful, with all the old Georgian shop fronts. He also visited a red squirrel conservation project, at Hutton in the Forest, near Penrith. We usually have two or three red squirrels at Low Hall, and we have put up squirrel feeders to encourage more. All our squirrels are of high enough IQ to ignore the special squirrel food in the squirrel feeders and go for the nuts and seeds in the squirrel proof bird feeders instead. The squirrels pantry tearoom, at Oakhurst Garden centre, a few minutes drive away can provide additional information (it also does very good home baked bread, made in a flowerpot, and usually has an open fire in the cooler weather to cosy up to).
Our other wildlife is similarly feisty and characterful. The wild bees resolutely ignored the hand made wild bee house we were given two Christmases ago, preferring a hole in the wall. The Lady birds have turned up their spots at the Ladybird house, despite a very cute lady bird painted on it, and me smearing it with copious quantities of Lady bird attractant. For some reason, they prefer to crawl over natural foliage instead. The doves fly straight over the dovecote to nest in various nearby trees.
A few nights ago, a barn owl flew across, right in front of the car, as we were turning into the drive. Awesome.