'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

If you've come here looking for pictures of a camp Roman soldier - click on this link

Sunday, June 25, 2006


More bizarre lifestyle signifiers from West Cumbria . . . in the course of a single day I have encountered two cases of devotion to England's World Cup chances expressed as truly painful automotive behaviour.
Number 1 - the gentleman in Cockermouth who has painted his white Vauxhall with a red cross down the bonnet and across the roof & sides. Sad.
Number 2 - the gentleman on the A595 at Lillyhall this morning who has painted his bonnet with the FA three lions blazon and the words, in best red-white-and-blue Daily Getelarph gothic, 'Chavs 4 England'. At least I think that was what it said. When I slowed down & looked in the rear-view mirror to decipher the message I was rewarded with some extremely graphic hand signals. But then he was driving an extremely un-chavish Rover 200. Perhaps he naturally associates England's chances with the fate of its only volume car manufacturer . . .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Les Delices De Cumbria - Part XIII

News reaches us from the world of bakery - strange practices in Cleator Moor. Our confectionery correspondent relates that she was recently faced with the challenging commission of a couple's engagement party cake. The young lovers wished to be immortalised in marzipan. How exactly? The luckless patissier was asked to confect an icing-sugar bedstead upon which the loving couple besported themselves, she on top, he beneath her bound to the bedstead, his'n'her tattoos and piercings reproduced with loving attention to detail. Quite what this tells us either about the semiotics of low-class Cumbrian konditorei or troth-plighting amongst the chavs I'm not at all sure.
Do stop sniggering at the back. It happened in Cleator Moor. They do that kind of thing over there.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Cumbrianator

As regular readers of this blog may have gathered - Cumbria is full of clever people with too much spare time. How else to explain the existence of The Cumbrianator? All credit to Dan Gibson, who has played midwife to the bastard offspring of Douglas Adams' Babel Fish & the Cumbrian Dialect Dictionary. Now you too can enjoy hours of harmless fun translating web pages into Cumbrian dialect. Clearly this is what online parsing software was invented for. Just click on the link above, go to the Cumbrianator, select the 'Web-site' option & type 'nfbtnw.blogspot.com' into the field. Suddenly you'll find yourself reading these words in dialect.
Note to Dan Gibson if he's reading this: fabulous idea. Any chance of expanding the parser's lexicon? At present it seems a bit limited. If, a thousand years into the future, the Dialect Dictionary were all that remained of 21st century Cumbria, the anthropologists of the fourth millenium would deduce a county in which people were permanently (i) drunk, (ii) short of cash or (iii) both, and the only entertainment available was endlessly watching horses jump over gates. Errm. Wait a minute . . .

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Housebling Redux

Readers with long memories will recall the seasonal outbreak of houseblinging in Cumbria last winter. What was then farce has now become tragedy. We live in the society of the spectacle, replete with signs whose meanings are as fluid and interchangeable as the fetishised commodities they front for. Yes, I'm talking about the World Cup again. At least one person in Carlisle has decided to paint his house with the symbol of the old Franco-Norman oppressors of the North & destroyers of the traditional liberties of the Borders.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

La Norvege - Direct Hit

I'm grateful to my friend Lex for the news that northern Norway recently collided with a meteorite. Just as well that the Viking Longship and I postponed our plans to spend this midsummer on the North Cape. This does, however, provide me with the perfect excuse for providing a link to the Svalbard webcam - nonstop 24-hour entertainment at this time of year, though come mirktide the image is, shall we say, likely to attain that crisp minimalism one naturally associates with the Scandinavian aesthetic . . .

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

That World Cup Sheep Ringtone

Oh dear me. Those crazy people at the Lake District Tourist Board clearly can't see a bandwagon creaking past their windows without jumping on it . . . Yes, it's World Cup 2006, so that must mean it's time for the baaarmy sheep to encourage you to wrap yourself in St George's flag, spray lager over your belly and come to Cumbria. If you're desperate for punishment you can watch the movie and download the ringtone here. Someone really ought to tell Eric Robson and his wacky marketing mavens that this joke's not funny anymore. The original rendition of Jerusalem was amusing the first time you heard it. But Jingle Bells was, well, a jingle too far. Now we've got Land Of Hopeless Tories. My advice is holiday on Herd Island. No TV = No World Cup. No sheep either, come to that . . .

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bank Holiday Wethers

Last Monday, accompanied by a small army of La V's brothers and sisters and nephews and nieces, we walked around Buttermere - a particular delight as the route took us past the precise point at which one of the Edward Thompson landscapes on my wall was composed. (Not much has changed since the 1920s, though the lakeside seems suspiciously more manicured now, presumably in response to tourist demand . . .) Setting out across the valley to the foot of Red Pike we ran the usual gauntlet of National Trust salesmen and ice-cream vendors. A few yards further on a farmer had rounded up his lambs into a narrow field adjoining the path and, in a commendable spirit of making the countryside more accessible to visiting townies, was expertly demonstrating the art of painless castration by the dextrous application of tightly-wound rubber bands to his flock's tackle. Well, that delicious Herdwick meat comes at a price, you know. Some of the younger members of the party were visibly revolted by this when they realised what was being done.
Never mind I told them. Just be grateful we're not in New Zealand.
Why? they enquired.
They don't bother with rubber bands down there. They just use their teeth.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Summer's Here And The Time Is Right For Climbing Scafell Pike

Cumbria in June: a glorious Friday of cloudless skies, so after dragging myself away from the world of telegrams and hate early in the morning, to St Bees where La V and I decided on an expedition to Wasdale. Once there, we took a leisurely walk up to Sty Head Pass, admiring the crags of the Napes on Great Gable above us. At the pass it seemed logical to set off along the Corridor Route towards Lingmell Col, so we walked on in the heat of the afternoon, past the magnificent rock scenery of Piers Gill until we took a wrong turn and found ourselves with a steep scramble up scree to the path between Broad Crag and Scafell
Pike itself
. By now we were thoroughly hot and sweaty, but the warmth of the day and the sheer rugged beauty of the rock architecture provided deep pleasure. Once atop Scafell Pike we picked our way through the boulder field to Mickledore, the narrow ridge that links Scafell and Scafell Pike and terminates in the massive rock bastions of Scafell Buttress. On the way down we paused to watch two climbers negotiate the upper pitches of a route on Scafell Pinnacle, a truly terrifying series of sheer aretes between Mickledore and Lord's Rake. Mickledore itself is a place of quite magical beauty - a ridge of grass and red earth fifty metres long which tapers to a narrow saddle at the foot of the buttress. It has an intimacy and repose quite at odds with the grandeur of the crags at one end and the mountain rescue kit screwed into the mountain at the other. On one side, a magnificent view of Crinkle Crags and the Coniston fells; on the other, Lord's Rake, Hollow Stones and Lingmell are laid out at your feet. We dropped down to visit Fat Man's Agony, the entrance to Broad Stand where Samuel Taylor Coleridge experienced the terror and exhiliration of what is probably the world's first recorded rock climb (he was coming down alone and had no idea what each successive drop held in store) before scrambling down the scree towards Hollow Stones and returning to Wasdale Head. Altogether the most magnificent half-day's expedition imaginable.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cumbrian Rain 'Getting Wetter' Shock

In the course of an evening spent considering the future of the Cumbrian environment recently, I was shocked and astonished to learn that our wonderful Cumbrian rain has apparently got measurably wetter in the last 40 years. No, that doesn't mean there's more precipitation. Apparently back when-I-were-a-lad the rain was all misty and ethereal like a fine aerosol spray. Now it comes down in big splodging drops, poised to deliver a crushing payload of climatic change on our defenceless uplands. (Run-off and erosion, etc). No, I don't entirely believe this either, and a cursory search through the contents of Mr Berners-Lee's invention reveals nothing in the way of published evidence for this claim. If there are any climatologists reading this blog, would they care to comment?