Ambleside

3.10 pm, Waterhead, Ambleside; AS I WAS quickly painting this view of Windermere as we waited for the ferry, Barbara spotted a notice recording the flood level in November 2009. I would have been standing almost waist-deep in water.

On our return journey to Bowness we pass Wray Castle, which Beatrix Potter’s parents rented for a summer holiday in 1882, giving 16 year old Beatrix her first experience of the Lake District.

Don’t go paddling at nearby Barrow Point (right); the lake plunges to 220 feet deep here. Windermere, at twelve miles long is the largest natural lake in England, is divided into two basins which were deepened by ice age glaciers.

I take a seat on the upper, open, deck of the ferry, sketching and dabbing in colour as we go.

It’s been a rainy day which is why we decided to head for Ambleside rather than setting out on a lakeside walk again.

It’s an opportunity to visit the Armitt Museum, which I haven’t visited since it moved to its new building in 1997. Amongst the exhibits are a number of watercolour studies of fungi by Beatrix Potter and a self-portrait by John Ruskin.

Bohemians in Exile

But the reason that I particularly wanted to visit today was to catch the Bohemians in Exile exhibition, which has created so much interest that it’s been extended until the new year. The Royal College of Art moved out here during World War II and, on the evidence of this exhibition they were a lively bunch, staging exhibitions and performances and getting involved with the life of the town.

I know someone who was there at the time and I can’t help thinking that there would have been many appealing aspects to being  based here as a natural history student during my time at the college, 30 years later.

Hmm . . . but then I’d have missed out on the Natural History Museum, and the Geological Museum . . . and concerts in the Royal Albert Hall . . . and lunchtime walks around the Serpentine (although it hardly compares with Windermere!).

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