Lakes on a Plate

We’d sent a ‘rush hour in the Lake District’ postcard to friends. Little did we know that we’d get stuck in the rush hour on our return journey near Ullswater!

A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO we enjoyed Peter Sidwell’s Channel 4 cooking series Lakes on a Plate where the chef tracked down and cooked the National Park’s local ingredients. Despite our regular visits we’ve never been lucky enough to spot him filming on location and get chance to sample the finished product but his new cafe at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, is the next best thing.

As you can see from my sketch, the setting is appropriately scenic there; I sat and drew the waterfall and lime kiln seen through the floor to ceiling windows of the cafe as we tried the pea, mint and watercress soup with a crusty hunk of artisan bread.

But we weren’t quite getting the mint so I asked the waitress;

‘We wondered if it was another herb – tarragon perhaps?’

‘Or perhaps it was dried mint?’ chipped in Barbara.

The waitress looked stunned; ‘We always use fresh ingredients!’

They do; perhaps we were getting the pepperiness of the watercress!

We’re planning a diversion every time we visit the Lake District now because we’re curious to try some of the other items on the menu such as wild boar burger, posh fish finger sandwich, chocolate and churros and lemon meringue posset.

3D Journey

Before we set off home, I bought this 3D map of Northern England from the Pitlochery store by the piers at Bowness. I’ve always been fascinated by 3D models and a maps of the landscape and this one could have been tailor made for me as it is centred on our home in West Yorkshire (our return route is highlighted in red). The vertical scale is highly exaggerated – Pen y Ghent would tower over Mount Everest! – but having driven back today via the Kirkstone Pass, Ullswater and Whernside, this broad-brush interpretation really brings out the character of the landscape. It’s a clear, simple way to see how Pennines, Peak, Lakes and Snowdownia fit together.

At A4 size it’s something you can pick up and look at from slightly different angles, which makes it more vivid than a regular 2D map or even the 3D version of the same area in Google Earth which you can ‘fly around’ online. With this version you can run your fingers over the mountains, tracing your route.

For instance Whernside (737m), a ridge with a sphinx-like northern scarp between the Lune and Ribble valleys, the bulkiest and, to me, the most forbidding of the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales, a dominating feature of our journey is equally conspicuous on the map.

Looking at the map makes me keen to get out a bit more and visit the four corners of my extended ‘local patch’; Snowdon in the south-west, Stranraer and The Rhins in the north-west corner, Cross Fell and Upper Teesdale to the north and, in the corner that I’m more familiar with from several trips to Norfolk, the Wash to the south-east.

I shall keep it knocking about in the studio and keep looking at it to choose the next place I’d like to visit. All within 170 miles from home (at least as the crow flies).

The Last Reef

Another 3D experience on our return trip; we have time to watch an IMAX movie in the cinema at Rheged, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea. Apart from being there, there can’t be a better way to experience the jellyfish lagoons of Pilau, the high cliffs of a Pacific atoll or the life of sea slugs and flatworms; who would have thought that slugs and flatworms could be so spectacular, like extravagant extra-terrestrials and flying carpets.

I’ll want to make an IMAX a regular feature of our Lakes visits now.

The widescreen, 3D cows of Castlerigg were equally impressive, and almost as wet . . .

Rush hour at Castlerigg, Monday afternoon.

Links; Peter Sidwell @ Rheged Cafe, Dorrigo 3D maps.

6 Replies to “Lakes on a Plate”

  1. Richard, you might be interested in this: You can use joint compound (for wall board, ceilings, etc.) to make a 3D map. You just apply it with a putty knife to a board or an artist’s canvas panel. It’s bright whiteness takes watercolor paint beautifully, and the ability to scratch in lines and textures enables you to make rivers, water, forested areas, etc. Joint compound is quite inexpensive (about $4 for a 12 lb tub). I use it with primary school students here in Canton, Ohio, USA. In the fall, we will be attempting to make maps of Tolkien’s Middle Earth with it. The interesting thing is that we will be reading The Hobbit with our penpals in Cawood, Yorkshire, England (south of York on the Ouse), and perhaps our penpals will also want to try making 3D maps and email us pictures of them. Have you ever painted on anything like this? If you decide to give it a try, we’d love to see a picture! I’m sure our Yorkshire penpals would love to see a 3D map of Yorkshire by a real Yorkshire artist, and to hear what you thought about painting on this kind of support.

    1. I’d love to give that a try. When I was revising for my GCEs (they were the high school exams of that time) I made 3D models of the British Isles, a cut away ash cone volcano and a glaciated landscape, with removable glaciers to show the post glacial landscape. The method I used was to take an expanded polystyrene tile, draw contours on it and cut around them with a sharp craft knife. You popped these up and glued them in place then added plaster of Paris, finally painting the model.
      There’s a place not far from Cawood, Wetwang, which appears both on the map of northern England and on Tolkien’s Middle Earth in approximately the same location relative to the western coast. In Tolkien Wetwang is a swamp, in real life it’s a historic village with an old church. What Tolkien didn’t know at the time was that a chariot burial would be discovered there, by builders, in 2001 and, unusually (uniquely perhaps) it was a woman who was buried with the chariot, c. 300 B.C. Like something out of Lord of the Rings.
      Look forward to hearing how your project goes.

      1. Amazing! I looked Wetwang up on Google Maps, and also found it on Tolkien’s map (near the Falls of Rauros). I will have to try to find reference to it in the Lord of the Rings. Had Tolkien known about the chariot burial of an elite Iron Age woman, I wonder if it would have found its way into The Lord of The Rings…perhaps an Eowen type figure! I’m off to experiment some more with the 3D map made out of joint compound.

        1. I’ve just started reading a book where the first scene is set in Cawood. The first words of the Prologue of Susanna Gregory’s Mystery in the Minster are ‘The Archbishop’s Palace, Cawood, near York, 19 July 1352.

          1. That’s very interesting. The book sounded so good that I just ordered it from our public library! I know our Cawood penpals told us that Cawood Castle was originally the home of Cardinal Wolsey (King Henry VIII’s advisor) who fell out of favor with the king over his inability to secure a divorce for Henry. I believe the reason the Cawood school mascot is “Humpty Dumpty” is because Humpty Dumpty in the nursery rhyme was in real life, Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop of York, who “had a great fall”!

          2. That’s where I picked up my copy – the returned today shelf at the local library. Reading about St Mary’s Abbey and medieval York makes me want to go back there to have a wonder around. We’re only an hour from York but it’s some years since we visited.
            I recently read ‘A Daughter’s Love’ a biography of Sir Thomas More. An unlikely saint as he was quite happy to burn people at the stake. I find the wily, worldly wise Wolsey marginally more appealing to the intellectually gifted and devout More.

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