Visit to Wordsworth House and Garden

Last week I was in the Lake District for some well-needed R & R. The weather was perfect; not hot enough to stop you walking up a fell, but still warm enough to wear a t-shirt. I ate far too much ice cream (as per usual) and had a fantastic time just relaxing and getting some fresh air.

What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with William Wordsworth. I know the name, I know he was a poet, and I’ve visited his grave in Grasmere, but a visit to Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth really got my creative juices flowing. Situated at the end of the main street in Cockermouth, it looks like any other beautiful Georgian House painted a lovely pink colour, but once you’re inside, you’re transported to the Georgian era.

A wonderful volunteer named Peter conducted a tour around the house, and gave us an insight in to the world that the Wordsworth family lived in; from the dining room with no vegetables to eat (Georgians MUCH preferred meat!), to the children’s bedroom and the kitchen, every room was arranged to greet us how it would greet the family.

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Playing cards laid out in the Drawing Room

Now I don’t claim to be a wordsmith, nor can I quote lines from poetry, (except maybe one or two lines from Shakespeare), but I left thinking “I NEED a Wordsworth book of poems!” I picked one up in the shop, and haven’t put it down since. Before we left, there was a fabulous activity to try; stones with different words were laid out for visitors to rearrange and make their own poem. Like I said, I’m no wordsmith, but I was inspired by the fells of the Lake District…

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My own attempt at poetry…

Overall, we only spent a few hours in Cockermouth, but I’d happily return just to see Wordsworth’s house and look at any of the detail I missed. If you’re considering a visit, it’s well-worth it. Just remember to buy some lunch and sit by the river afterwards.

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What Makes a Good Story?

What makes a good story? We’re surrounded by the media, and not necessarily in a positive way. Add the fact that we’re subject to ‘fake news,’ it can be hard to determine whether the story you have in your hands is real, or even exciting enough to penetrate the phonies.

There has been an increase in ‘fake news’ since the U.S. election; according to the Telegraph it all started with Donald Trump’s first press conference as President-elect when he accused a reporter of “being fake news.” Although the term has been given negative connotations, it has actually given the public a chance to increase their awareness of trickery used in the media- whether they’re talking about the President of the U.S.A. or the story of a local man protesting new housing. The term ‘fake news’ has given the public power: Power to say “NO” to the media when they offer us news that we do not trust.

So you’re sitting on a story that has the potential to interest your reader, but how do you make it grab them? The important thing is not to turn it in to fake news, whether on purpose or by accident. Ensuring you’re only stating the facts is rule number one. The second rule is to look for the exciting part of the story- is there something unique that makes it stand out? If your story looks and feels similar to every other piece of news out there, it won’t make much impact. Use its uniqueness as a selling point.

It might seem difficult to get a positive story in to the media nowadays, but the public are looking to read happy stories, not stories that depress them. Development, conservation, and uncovering hidden histories are always exciting, and can draw in the reader and encourage them to visit the place about which you’re talking. If you ask questions that persuade the reader to either interact with your story, they’re more likely to remember it.

The most important thing to remember is stay true to your story. Don’t stretch the truth, and don’t underestimate your reader’s ability to spot a lie. Spread the word. Use social media as a platform. Build impact. And don’t forget to enjoy writing.

Just a little break…

Hello, how are you? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about that- I suppose I’m more of a Twitter user than a blogger. You can find me on Twitter as @MuseumDiscuss, by the way.

I think that for now, I’m going to stop using this blog, because I’m clearly not very good at it! I may come back to it in the future, but for now I’d like to thank you all for your support and encourage you to keep following me on Twitter.

Samantha

Hadrian’s Wall

As a north-easterner, I’ve grown up learning about Hadrian’s Wall. In fact, if you drive for just fifteen minutes from my house, you can find the wall itself. Its history has always fascinated me, and I’ve always found it spine-tingling that we can still see and touch something that people also saw and touched 2000 years ago.

One of the places I’ve always wanted to visit is Sycamore Gap- a small valley in Hadrian’s Wall, with a sycamore in it, made famous by the Kevin Costner film ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.’ Admittedly, it might have been the fact that Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman walked along the wall, but mostly it was that it is a beautiful area, surrounded by nature. So this weekend, I walked along the exact same place that the movie is filmed in, and had a fantastic time. Yes, it was so windy you could barely hear what anyone was saying, but it was fantastic nonetheless. Here are a selection of the photos I took…

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Just past Sycamore Gap, you can see a beautiful lake below the hills.
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Sycamore Gap
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Sycamore Gap- and blue sky!
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Couldn’t resist a black and white photo!
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Hadrian’s Wall from Housesteads

 

A Few Days in the Lake District

One of my favourite places to visit regularly is the Lake District. It’s only a couple of hours drive-away, and is an instant soother. As soon as you step out of the car, you can feel the calm, beautiful surroundings enveloping you.

Last week my other half and I stayed in Keswick for four days, and had plenty to pack in to that time. Keswick is a picturesque village, and is perfect for the day or even longer; surrounded by mountains, with Derwentwater a stone’s throw away from the centre. Usually when we visit Keswick, we’re prepared for rain. This time, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The Sun stayed out, and the temperature barely dipped below 20 Celsius. Cue plenty of sunburn and ice cream!

The first full day that we were there, we went for a walk around Aira Force; a waterfall near Ullswater. There are lots of beauty spots around the waterfall, and plenty of places to stop for a picnic.

 

We also had a trip to Grasmere and walked up to Easedale Tarn; a beautifully peaceful lake in the middle of the mountains. We had to buy some Sarah Nelson’s traditional gingerbread, too!

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The view up to Easdale Tarn was beautiful, too!
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Easdale Tarn; notice the cloudless sky!

The trip gave me a chance to try my new camera, too. I’ve taken FAR too many photos, as usual, but I’ve tried to include the best ones. There are a few more I’d like to show off..

The entire trip was amazing, as it always is. It helped that it was boiling, mind you. I can’t wait to go back already.

An Inspiring Visit

Whilst working last weekend, an old high school teacher of mine came in with her children. It wasn’t just any old high-school teacher though; it was my favourite teacher of all time. She taught me English Literature at GCSE and AS/ A Level, and was the most inspiring teacher I’ve ever met. Everyone loved her! She was funny, kind, silly, and most of all, intelligent.

Before being taught by Mrs C, I’d had the most boring English teacher in the WORLD. She taught us about Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and I can honestly say, it was the most boring class I’ve ever taken. We’d copy her notes from the blackboard, and that was it. However, Mrs C ignited my love of classic fiction. She was worlds apart from the Macbeth teacher. We learned how to analyse a piece of work, appreciate the author’s true meaning, and most of all, how to enjoy reading. Even the dullest poems were brought to life with her ability to make a class of 16 year olds laugh. After our two years together at GCSE, the majority of her class went on to study English with her at AS- and A-Levels, too.

At this point, I should probably mention that I wasn’t keen on school. Actually, that’s not true- I loved school. It was the people I hated. I was picked on, left out and ignored, but Mrs C encouraged me to be me. That sounds rather cheesy, but it’s true. Her lessons were like an escape.. I could have fun, laugh and joke with her, and ignore all the other stuff going on around me.

I haven’t seen her since I left Sixth Form (almost ten years ago, now!) and I’ve debated about whether or not to contact her over the years. She was so inspiring that I could imagine everyone wanted to stay in contact with her, and I was sure she’d get bored of hearing from ex-pupils. However, as soon as she came in to work, I dived over to her. “Mrs C, do you remember me?!” Her familiar smile shone. “Oh my God, of course I do!” Sadly it was busy with other visitors, so we didn’t get much of a chance to catch up, but we did discuss my career, what we’re doing and how we are. It felt great to get a hug from the most inspirational teacher I’ve ever had.

Since seeing her, I’ve not stopped thinking about it. ‘I should have said this…’, ‘I wonder if…’ …the usual afterwit. It made me realise that there are still people out there supporting me, despite not seeing them for the best part of a decade. It made me feel good.

The Late Shows at GNM: Hancock

It’s a warm, sunny evening in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and there’s a buzz in the air. Adults, families and students walk through the city with their glowsticks. What does that say on the glowstick? Ah, yes; “The Late Shows 10.” It was the weekend of Museums at Night; a national celebration of all things museumy, arty, and heritagey. (Yes, I did just make those words up.)

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I decided to visit my favourite museum, GNM: Hancock. And boy, did it live up to the ‘cock’ part of its name. Advertised as ‘adults only,’ there were rude cocktails, penises, breasts, sex and all things adult. I didn’t realise there was so much to learn about penises!

Erin, an Assistant Curator of Biology had an array of animal baculum, which is the technical way of saying “animal knobs.” She taught us that there are bones in some placental animals, and that these come in all shapes and sizes. She also told me a fact that I can add to my repertoire of “random knowledge”- apparently, the idea of Eve being made from Adam’s rib is from the confusion of the baculum (bone) in a penis. (No, humans don’t have them, but I wonder if this is where the term ‘boner’ comes from..?) She also showed us a pair of Great Tits, purely for comical effect. (NB: Birds)

A rude quiz took us to different areas of the museum, including the Stud that was Ramases II, who fathered over 90 children; the amazing T-Rex skeleton, who possibly has short arms to grab their mate during sex, and naked ancient Greek men working out in Gyms.

We also learnt about the shape of animal penises (reminder; don’t be a female cat in your next life) and about their length. Gorillas aren’t particularly well-endowed, but surprisingly, ducks are.

Visitors seemed to love the whole evening, and it opened up a lot of discussions about sex. Something (almost) every living thing does, but no one talks about. Well done, GNM.

Penshaw Monument

This past weekend I visited Penshaw Monument, a National Trust site in, well, Penshaw. You can access the site at any time throughout the year, but the brave National Trust staff and volunteers stand atop the hill and open the column which takes you to the top of the monument. I have to admit; it was my first visit there, and I had no idea you could climb the 70ft folly, but it was definitely worth the dizzying staircase. The weather held out, too; it was bright, warm and sunny, and it just started to cloud over as I left.

I managed to snap a few photos, so do have a look, and visit the monument when you can. Warning: You’ll need to climb a steep hill to get there, so have your inhalers ready! 🙂

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This is my favourite shot from the day- no filter, just a beautiful blue sky and Penshaw Monument

 

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More blue sky and the black structure (which, I was told, is from coal fires)

 

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I couldn’t stop looking at the columns- they’re so impressive!

 

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A panoramic view of the Sunderland/ Durham side of the monument. If you put your glasses on and zoom in, you can spot Durham Cathedral.

Updated!

Welcome back!

You know when you feel like you need a new start? Well we’ve had one here at Museum Discussion. It mostly means a new-look for the blog and the Twitter page, but it feels so much more fresh and new!

With Spring just around the corner (although it has been snowing lately..) we’ll be going on lots of adventures to new places, which means lots of entries on this blog. Do you have anywhere you’re desperate to visit?

Anyway, enjoy the new-look blog and Twitter, and let us know what you think!

🙂

Updating…

Hello.

I haven’t been on this blog for such a long time; I really must apologise. Since it’s been such a long time, I thought I’d update it, and give it a new look. Please bear with me whilst I give it a bit of a face-lift, and try out some new logos. Once it’s done, I’ll give you the low-down, and please tell me what you think!

Samantha.