The Visual Nature of Lakeland

Sheep in Great Langdale valley with neolithic axe factory in background.

Sheep in Great Langdale valley with neolithic axe factory in background.

In George Monbiot’s recent article Black Box, he describes his frustrated difficulty in communicating with any of the key decision makers at UNESCO in relation to his thoughts on World Heritage Site designation for Cumbria’s Lake District as expressed in his previous article Fell Purpose. In that article, George raised some interesting and valid points but to my mind hasn’t actually established any sound grounds for a complaint against WHS designation for Lakeland, ecological or otherwise, see my previous post for my fuller analysis of the set of grievances voiced in his previous article on the subject. As I said before, there’s no reason why his desire for ecological restoration could not take place within a UNESCO WHS. His grievances strike me as genuinely innocent, underpinned by errors of comprehension and appreciation and fueled by a desire to see ecological restoration take place. UNESCO have already made their decision, correctly in my opinion, to designate the British Lake District as a World Heritage Site. To recap, the key points in favour of designation as I see it, are:

  1. Lakeland as we know and love it is a unique and discreet cultural landscape, not a purely natural one. Human interaction with the landscape for many thousands of years has created what we see today — a visually appealing patchwork of landscape features shaped by glaciation, traditional sheep grazing, forestry and tourism in the form of hiking, riding, boating and simply gazing. There are many scenes in Lakeland that are Tolkeinesque. Their charm is principally visual and clear views are important to their appreciation. The rich heritage of prehistoric monuments are embedded within the landscape, they were erected with regard to features within their landscape, aligned to geophysical points including other sites, as well as cardinal points. Their siting and orientation was deliberate. I am not alone in thinking that many natural features of Lakeland were probably revered as sacred, Saddleback being a good example; it is indeed possible that the whole mountainous area was considered holy.
  2. Our modern appreciation of landscape was greatly shaped by the poetic appreciation of illustrious visitors. The landscape influenced them and they, it. There are a lot of historically and culturally important sites within the designated area that are vulnerable to deterioration without proper maintenance and there is much scope for interpretation to make sense of landscape features, there’s much scope for making areas more accessible physically and in terms of interpretation. This is UNESCO’s area of expertise.
  3. Sheep aren’t responsible for Lakeland’s screes, these are from glacial erosion and it is as much due to glaciers and climatic conditions that we have the exposures of bare rock immortalized in water colour paintings and black and white photographs. Sheep grazing is an integral part of landscape management, few other creatures are hardy enough to graze the higher Fells and I don’t think George is advocating that our mountain views be maintained by lawn mowers, rather he’s thinking that they should be forested, but this would essentially change the cultural landscape which now and previously has always been visually oriented. People also enjoy seeing these sheep within the landscape, even if they’re being herded by farmers on ATVs. It’s the sheepdogs that help make it all manageable now as in previous centuries.  There’s also a very long tradition of industrial exploitation, the neolithic axe factories in Great Langdale are famous, but how many of us know that iron ore was mined by the Romans above Ulswater and transported from there by river for example?

Sheep are hardy managers of Lakeland landscape.

I agree with George’s assertions that there’s a lot of scope for ecological restoration and I think that there’s no reason why this would conflict with UNESCO’s mission, rather it can and should go hand in hand with sensitive planning!  For this to work well, there will obviously need to be open channels of communication between cultural and environmental conservation bodies and landowners and the visiting public. There are great opportunities here for sure. There are Arctic Char in some of the lakes, relict populations of the glacial melt at the end of the Pleistocene. Wouldn’t it be great to sensitively rewild some areas and restore some water meadows and other habitat for hardy traditional British megafauna, some made extinct here by man, but still living elsewhere in northern Europe? Eagles, beavers, elks, boars, wolves, bears?

UNESCO World Heritage Site Designation For Lakeland!

Buttermere reflecting Fells and trees in Cumbria's Lake District National Park. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

Buttermere reflecting Fells and trees in Cumbria’s Lake District National Park. C.Paxton photo and copyright.

I am thrilled to learn of the new UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for Cumbria’s Lake District. The BBC News article announced  “The Lake District has joined the likes of the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal and Machu Picchu by being awarded Unesco World Heritage status.”

Hooray! This is a very sound decision imho, a well-deserved status, I think. William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter would likely be very pleased at the prospect. It matches all the qualifying criteria being a discreet area of outstanding and highly distinctive landscape quality with a great many sites that have globally recognized cultural value. Good decision, UNESCO and thank you very much.

World Heritage Site Designation For Lakeland – Some Thoughts

Lakeland landscape with Derwentwater Fells. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Lakeland landscape with Derwentwater Fells. C. Paxton image and copyright.

The pride is real. The British Lake District is worthy of World Heritage Site designation.

Elterwater with mallard duck presents idyllic Lakeland scenery. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Elterwater with mallard duck presents idyllic Lakeland scenery. C. Paxton image and copyright.

I feel compelled to write my reaction to George Monbiot’s May 19th article “Fell Purpose” , a highly stimulating article. Monbiot begins by saying that “The attempt to turn the Lake District into a World Heritage site would be a disaster”. I disagree, but he is right in saying that it is an almost irreversible move and worthy of due consideration, especially in the light of Brexit, as the area currently benefits from three billion pounds of E.U. funding annually. If people turn against the idea of designation as a UNESCO WHS then at least the gauntlet has been dropped and similar funding can then be sought from other more local sources.

The fact is that the Lakeland that we know and love depends very much upon active management from farmers, landowners, non-profit groups and volunteers as well as local and national government. There’s no way they’d let a disaster happen to Lakeland. They love it too.

In short Monbiot’s article presents an illusion of reality from selective observations and condemns plans to assist ‘preservation’ of English Lakeland at international expense begging the question of whether it would be developed in other (better?) ways if the area wasn’t made a WHS. Not only is there no evidence that that would happen, but he needs to explore the ideas of betterment out loud so that we can see the extent of them and ask why they couldn’t happen in a WHS?  In terms of ‘improvement’ he can’t simply equate progressive development with general aforestation. That image of the screes that he has selected for criticism of the region at large, is of Wastwater in Western Lakeland near Scarfell, which is famous for … its craggy screes. There are few other such dramatic screes elsewhere, they continue underwater in what is one of our deepest lakes, yet he would hold that glacial feature as an example of widespread ecological mistreatment and blame sheep for it. He’s being a bit heavy handed there.  Wastwater was never rainforest in the time of man, if you want that visit Lodore Falls. If people want clear views of Fell tops on the whole, and they do seem to, then cluttering them with trees isn’t a particularly bright idea. In fact the report notes that many fine viewpoints that were clear in Wordsworth’s day would benefit from sensitive and judicious clearance. There are already areas of native deciduous forest around Haweswater, Ulswater and Derwentwater for example that are gorgeous and on marginal rocky lowland and grazed.

On p.534 Only landscape character types B, E, F and G are listed as being in any condition equal to or lesser than moderate! I is moderate to good. So, it’s not in a parlous state by any means but there’s quite a lot of room for improvement.  On page 535 the biodiversity table shows the bulk of SSSIs 66%, as recovering. Monbiot is right, this could be better.

However, the real eye opener, I think is Table 4.1 the percentage of  listed buildings and scheduled monuments at risk! A lot of the scheduled monuments will be archaic ones such as the Cockpit. The Lake District has a wealth of heritage that is appreciated worldwide, why should it not receive the official recognition and accompanying financial support that it so richly deserves?

The supporting documents for the bid proposal make good reading for anyone interested in Cumbria’s Lake District (http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor/projects/whs/lake-district-nomination).

While there’s some truth in what George says about the size of the farms increasing and the need for subsidies to continue even in the face of Brexit, World Heritage Site status would probably suit the Lake District perfectly well as far as I can see because:

a) it’s mainly the farmers,  landowners and teams of volunteers who maintain the landscape and culture nexus that UNESCO wants to preserve. They wouldn’t want to cover the fells with trees anyway, some ravines and along watercourses perhaps but not the felltops, WHS would give a shot in the arm to the cultural and historical sites (some that have struggled to thrive through tourism only, e.g. my wife and I miss Cockermouth’s Sheep and Wool Centre now gone) and offer some degree of maintenance for scheduled monuments that are mostly looked after gratis by landowners.

b) UNESCO would likely act on the advice of the National Trust and Natural England, Eden Rivers Trust, English Heritage etc. with regard to policy decisions and improving public access facilities in a sensitive manner, they have acted sensibly elsewhere.

c) much of the tourism infrastructure is already in place, the grant money could be usefully employed repairing essential infrastructure and improving access and interpretation that benefit locals and visitors alike.

d) The Lake District has large tracts of sheepscape but there is native woodland with deer, cattle pasture with rare breeds, and there are pine plantations e.g. Grizedale some of which could be systematically replaced with native mixed deciduous forest over time, though our red squirrels like the pines too, as do many birds, so some conifers should certainly remain. Herdwicks are one of the few types of animal that will live year-round on some of the higher fells.

e) the elements considered most at risk are scheduled monuments and listed buildings – this is a primary concern of UNESCO.

f) there’s a lot of scope for sensitive and imaginative development for recreation and education.

 

The Carles of Catslerigg, near Keswick. C. Paxton image and copyright.

The Carles of Castlerigg, situated in some of England’s finest landscape near Keswick. One of Cumbria’s great Neolithic stone circles, it is also one of the oldest. C. Paxton image and copyright.

Fell walkers pause to admire the Cockpit on Moor Divock, Askham Common. C.Paxton. image and copyright

Fell walkers pause to admire the Cockpit on Moor Divock, Askham Common. C.Paxton. image and copyright

I think there are a lot of prehistoric sites that could benefit from the WHS status; a lot of cultural treasures made more accessible.  When you consider that the amazing rock art on the boulders at Chapel Style were only officially recognized in the 1990’s you can appreciate that there are other wonders awaiting (re)discovery! It’s really a very exciting area. The Moor Divock Necropolis leaps to mind as an example. A plateau 1000 ft above sea level, where chariots raced through one of Europe’s most interesting funerary complexes.  You could walk through it now without learning a thing about it. Sensitive archaeological exploration and interpretation would be great!  Much of the local archaeology was conducted in previous centuries. Amongst other notable monuments there’s a very rare ‘starfish cairn’ in the form of White Raise.

If farmers / landowners are paid to help maintain heritage sites that would be good, because many are maintaining them for nowt at the moment.

Moor Divock's Standing Stones, site number 4.

Moor Divock’s Standing Stones, site number 4 on Askham Common.

Lodore Falls, dramtically blurred by slow shutterspeed.

Lodore Falls, dramatic waterfall set in lush forest.

There’s certainly plenty of scope for selective reforestation and riparian improvements through re-meandering and restablishing water meadows, otteries, heronrys etc. Eden Rivers Trust have the know how.

Landowners / managers could perhaps be encouraged not to kill otters, foxes, badgers, eagles, harriers etc.  Is there scope for one or two beaveries and bear parks? Lordly stags and sounders of wild pigs might yet have their place.

What do you think?

The White Raise burial cairn has a rare 'starfish' shape.

The White Raise burial cairn has a rare ‘starfish’ shape.

Author with his father at Sinside great circle in Novemeber 2013.

Author with his father at Swinside great circle in November 2013.

Summer Pudding In Appleby, Anyone?Live Music, Circus Acts, Crafts Market, Cake Contest, Family Fun!

THIS SATURDAY: DON’T MISS THE SUMMER PUDDING AT APPLEBY CASTLE

BUY TICKETS NOW

Saturday 20th August COME ALONG, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT  Daytime: 1 Fairytale Castle,  3 Live Music stages, 4 Performance Stages, Funfair, Jaw-dropping Circus Acts, Crafty Vintage Market, Cake Competition, Children’s activities, woodland walk and more.

Night-time: Top festival bands on the inner bailey stage The Correspondents, Gypsy Hill & Sam and The Womp 

www.summerpudding.co.uk

BUY TICKETS NOW

A FLOOD RECOVERY EVENT FOR APPLEBY: COME ALONG, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT

supported by Eden District Council, Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Appleby Town Council, Cumberland & Westmoreland Herald, Country Puddings. An Eden Arts event.

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News from The Butchers Arms Community Pub

Here’s some news from The Butchers Arms Community Pub in Crosby Ravensworth

The Butcher's Arms

The new chef at The Butcher’s Arms has creative flair and has prepared meals for celebrities. C.Paxton photo and copyright

Reblogged from https://lyvennetcommunitypub.wordpress.com/2016/05/13/butchers-arms-update-2016-05-12/
Posted on 13/05/2016 by lvcpnews

Excellent new tenant landlords Stephen and Carrie are now serving at The Butchers Arms. All food is freshly cooked and the specials board changes regularly. There is a range of dishes to suit all tastes.

There is a position of a Commis Chef available so please contact Steve or Carrie if you are interested or know of someone who may be. Call 01931-715500

The bank holiday has been very busy with sales of nearly 600 drink sales on Saturday alone and numerous meals.

The Butchers Arms AGM is Saturday the 2nd July at 5pm.

There will be a hot buffet & vegetarian option also, this will be served at 7pm.

Please book direct with Carrie 01931-715500, Email is butchersarms.cumbria@gmail.com

 

  • The Butchers Arms walking group, has with the light nights, started meeting for its fortnightly Wednesday night walk followed by supper in the pub. For further information or to join the mailing list please contact me at at kitty.s65@btinternet.com
  • The Lyvennet Activity Group is coordinated by Joan Raine with support from other committee members. Joan has been successfully running a lunch club on the first Thursday in every Month. Anyone wishing to join the lunch club please contact Joan direct for more information on 01931-715351

Lyvennet Activity Group has run various fund raising events too, which has raised thousands of pounds for different charities. The last event in April raised £1,350 for Penrith Mountain Rescue Team.

The Charity music fest with live music and a hog roast is on Saturday the 13th August from 1pm. It is in the same field as last year, just up from the pub. It was well supported last year and raised £2,180 for 3 charities. I am trying to raise sponsorship to help cover costs. Anyone interested in helping with this should contact me directly at kitty.s65@btinternet.com

Anais, a French student, will be working at the Butchers Arms for a week in June and July to help improve her English language. It will be a good experience for her.

Kitty,

Secretary, Lyvennet Community Pub.

The Winter Droving – 7 days to go!

I just received this notification that Winter Droving 2015 is coming soon and it’s going to be fun, again!

The Winter Droving 14th Nov 2015
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Winter Droving 2015 is going to be the biggest and best yet!
With over 20 live bands, 12 local and international street acts, Kyloes’ Drovers Cup, dog fancy dress, a delicious fantastic Cumbrian market consisting of over 60 stalls, a VICTORIAN FUNFAIR!, a magical lantern procession and not to forget the new addition this year… THE MASQUED MASHUP AFTER PARTY!

A wild Bacchanalian night of dancing under the cloak of disguise!

Daytime is FREE!

Evening after party tickets available NOW
AND….the Winter Droving has also been shortlisted by Cumbria Life in the 2015 Culture Awards (for Event of the Year) and Eden Arts are shortlisted for Arts Organisation of the Year!! Awards announced at Theatre by the Lake on Thursday 12th.

See you on the 14th NOV

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THE AFTER PARTY VIDEO
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Secretary of State Expands Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks

Limestone pavement on Orton Scar is to be added to the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Photo and copyright C.Paxton.

Limestone pavement on Orton Scar is part of the beautiful Cumbrian countryside that will be enjoined with the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Photo and copyright C . Paxton.

The Secretary of State has decided to approve extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. This follows a long and thorough investigation process launched in 2012 that included public consultations by surveys and public meetings into the desirability of the areas that were under consideration for selection by Natural England to be designated National Park status. Together the LDNP and YDNP form a huge protected area that covers much of the best countryside of the ancient British Kingdom of Brigantia.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary has expanded by about 25%, adding some delightful parts of Cumbria that were formerly assigned to old Westmorland. Indeed some of the most beautiful places in YDNP are Cumbrian. These new Westmorland additions are landscapes of wild beauty in the case of the upland limestone moorland of Crosby Ravensworth Fell, Great Asby and Orton Scar. Here ravens soar over prehistoric cairn circles such as the White Hag,  and stone circles such as Gamelands and Oddendale, and funerary Cairn circle mounds like Penhurrock where bones of abnormal size were said to have been unearthed. These moors are reputedly haunted by a headless horseman on Gaythorne Plain.

I’ll be adding more pictures to this page in weeks to come that will hopefully convey some of this area’s charming qualities.  http://westmorlandfells.com/westmorlandcharm.html

Where the newly added Dales are concerned, they are rich in old world, ‘Hobbity’ appeal – Orton with its lovely village shop and chocolate factory, Crosby Ravensworth with the winding Llyvennet river, where King Urien of Rheged supposedly best loved to unwind and The Butchers Arms Community Pub.  Maulds Meaburn with its delightful riparian village green dotted with lambs.

Though not within the National Park itself, the Market Town of Appleby-in-Westmorland, is well worth a visit too.

Not only are these additions very delightful landscapes in their own right, many also contain sites of great antiquity and other cultural treasures and have been rightly identified as having superb recreational value.

You can read the letters from the Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-parks-extensions-to-the-lake-district-and-yorkshire-dales-parks

and view the maps here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lake-district-and-yorkshire-dales-national-parks-boundary-changes-confirmed

C-Art 2015 Starts Tomorrow!

I just got this timely reminder from Eden Arts that C-Art Open Studios commences tomorrow and lasts until Sept. 27th.

Over to them!

Subject: C-Art 2015 Starts Tomorrow!

Starting Tomorrow
C-Art Open Studios 12th – 27th September 2015
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C-Art 2015 Starts Tomorrow | 12 – 27 September

It’s finally here. Tomorrow sees the start of C-Art 2015 with a huge variety of artists, designers and independent galleries opening their doors to visitors. There will be special exhibitions and installations, workshops, events and a special opportunity to step into the studios of Cumbria’s finest artists.

You can keep up to date with what’s going on via our Facebook and Twitter.

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Highlights | C-Art 2015

John Hewitt, Millom
John Millom will be showing his bold, colourful and unique abstract acrylic art at his studio in Millom alongside works in progress to show the process involved. New to C-Art, his work has been exhibited internationally and more recently around Millom.

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Highlights | C-Art 2015
Lionel Playford, Garrigill

Lionel Playford‘s recent work refers to the land, it’s weather and our place in it. The studio will be showing paintings and collages, drawings made with natural materials and sculptures and collages made from artist-made grass papers.

Events 2015

There are a number of associated events happening as part of C-Art 2015. Some are ticketed and some are free so please look at the links below for more details.

Rowena Beaty at St Mary’s Church, Wreay | 11- 14 September
Friends of St Mary’s Church, Wreay, present an exhibition of the work of the sculptor Rowena Beaty set within the beautiful interior of St Mary’s Church. On Saturday 12th September, as part of the Friends of St Mary’s Open Day, Rowena will talk about the creative act of sculpture and her reaction to and affinity with the work of Sarah Losh, creator of this unique church: Tickets £10 (including lunch and tea) www.stmaryswreay.org.uk

Alex Jakob-Whitworth and Barbara Gilbertson, Synesthesia at Dufton Ghyll Woods | 12 September at 10am
What colour is the sound of a violin? What note is bright light? How do we paint a tune?

These questions are posed by visual artist, Alex Jakob-Whitworth working in ink and paint and pastels, and a professional violinist, Barbara Gilbertson, at Dufton Ghyll Woods – responding to their surroundings and each other’s work…in a beautiful natural amphitheatre with stunning acoustics.

Brougham PhotoFest 3 | 11 – 13 September
This year’s festival has a photography and poetry theme and will be taking place from 11th-13th September 2015. There will be live performances, national and local exhibitions, work for sale and the workshops by photography experts. Featuring Ian McMillan and Ian Beesley. The programme is available via www.simonwhalley.org

Abandon Normal Devices Festival at Grizedale Forest | 18 – 20 September
The Festival will create a site for exploration and uncover the secret architecture of the forest through a programme of artworks, events, trails and film happenings.
www.andfestival.org.uk/events/and-festival-2015-2

Poetry Performance at Brantwood in the Severn Studio | 20 September
This collaboration of artist Sally Bamber and poet Maggie Norton celebrates ignored and unheralded/overlooked wild flowers. Maggie will perform her poems in the Severn Studio among the watercolours of wild flowers by Sally Bamber.

Film PINA (U) at the Old Fire Station, Penrith | 24 September 7pm
PINA is a feature-length dance film with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer, who died in the summer of 2009. Part of the Remote Cinema screenings this Autumn.

Click herefor further details and to view the catalogue.

Order your copy of the artist directory here or pick one up from selected galleries here

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Fancy photographing Raptors With The Toons At Silverband ?

Few wildlife photographers have won so much praise for their work as Ann and Steve Toon. The active couple are conservation photographers famed particularly for their work with rhinos.

The husband and wife team will hold a Raptors Workshop Jun 26, Jul 31, Aug 7 in the Eden Valley, Cumbria. The Toons will team up with Silverband Falconry for what promises to be an amazing day of hawk and owl photography including Tawny , Barn , Snowy , European Eagle and Little Owls, also Kestrel, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and others, all for £120*.

Wild Open Eye - Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

White rhinos, Ceratotherium simum, Hlane Royal National Park game reserve, Swaziland, Africa “Project African Rhino came about because we’ve been passionate about rhinos since the first time we saw them in the wild.” Ann and Steve Toon photo and copyright.

Wildopeneye talks with Ann and Steve Toon, founders of Project African Rhino about what makes them ‘click’. 

Images are all copyright Ann and Steve Toon.

Ann Toon photographing white rhino at Hlane game reserve, Swaziland Ann Toon photographing white rhino at Hlane game reserve, Swaziland

Wildopeneye first heard of the enterprising husband and wife photographic team via a promising news release on their Project African Rhino website and was immediately impressed by the Toons’ use of multimedia photojournalism to raise the profile of African Rhino conservation work.

You may well have seen and admired their work yourselves over recent years as their outstanding nature photographs have appeared in a variety of prestigious and influential magazines and other news media in service of environmental education. The award-winning pair sell images directly from their online data-base and via specialist agencies and…

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Fathers Day Toy Fair In Chester-Le-Street, June 21st

Model trains

A variety of model trains like these will be among the many tables at Chester-Le-Street Toy Fair June 21, 2015

Make Fathers Day special this year at Chester-Le-Street Toy Fair

 

By Charles Paxton

Should you be looking to spoil your Dad this Fathers’ Day with some nostalgic toys, models or figures, consider popping over the Pennines with him to the Chester-Le-Street Toy Fair on Sunday. You can find the latest details at http://www.carlisletoyfair.com/clstf_visitors.html

Did you know that Carlisle Toy Fair has new organizers now? Jim and Therese Corr of Durham Vintage Toys have recently donned that mantle. They have plenty of experience in such things as they also run the Gateshead Toy Fair and Chester-Le-Street Toy Fair.

Jim tells me Chester-Le-Street Toy, Train and Sci-fi Collectors Fair will be open from 10.30 am – 3.30 pm with entry just £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for Senior citizens and children under 16. You can buy, sell or swap treasures from the toy box at

Park View Community School, North Lodge, Lombard Drive DH3 4BB

Note that Early Bird Tickets enable entry from 8 am for £5

 

 

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C.Paxton is proud to serve as website designer for the Corrs.