Askham Hall Market Great Success!

Askham Hall Christmas Market's magical atmosphere, good for shopping and selling.

Askham Hall Christmas Market’s magical atmosphere was good for shopping and selling. C. Paxton photo taken on Sigma Foveon Merrill DP2.

Askham Hall Christmas Market? Brilliant! Here’s a taste. Eggsquisite decorative items from caskets to Christmas tree ornaments by Christine Kendall Crafts of The North – all crafted from egg shells, the goose eggs from her own flock at The Spruced Up Goose

By Charles Paxton

All photos by C.Paxton of www.the apologies to those many that I didn’t photograph. Click on the images if you wish to view them larger.
Photo sketch of Askham Christmas Market on Dec. 8th 2013

Shoppers and stall holders in the converted barn at Askham Christmas Market on Dec. 8th 2013

Preparing for Christmas may be on your minds at the moment and Christmas Markets are ideal for getting something local and distinctive! One such is Askham Hall’s Christmas Market, held in the grounds and converted barn at the C13th Hall last Sunday. Askham Hall opened to the public last year offering 13 guest rooms, restaurant and party barn it’s a high class events venue, see Askham Hall’s website for more info.  This sort of event is so good you just want it to live on!

This year there was a wider range of high quality local produce available than last, according to organiser Marie-Louisa Raeburn and there was a bigger turnout too, for the 32 local stall holders who were selling Christmas crafts and food and classic antiques. The Café sustained the merry throng with hot food and drinks. It was a cornucopia of produce from local businesses large and small.

From the number of cars it’s estimated that visitors numbered between 1,200 and 1,500. They came in a steady stream rather than a crush and were fortified by drinks and tasty snacks from the Café.

Marie-Louisa Reaburn, organiser said “We are delighted that our second Christmas Market, both outside and in our newly converted barn was such a success. A fantastic range of craft and food stalls, Santa’s grotto, hot food and mulled wine and an excellent turnout made it a fantastic day all round.”

First, let me tell you about the crafts; they ranged from the traditional to the highly contemporary, many highly distinctive: Christmas Wreaths with both aromatic and visual appeal, fragrances, haberdashery, gorgeous decorative eggs that bring Carl Faberge to mind from Christine Kendall Crafts of The North, available as caskets, standalone decorative ornaments and to hang on the Christmas tree.

Ornamental candles to brighten any Christmas from Sarah McCraig Designs

Ornamental candles to brighten any Christmas from Sarah McCraig Designs

Candles are essential for Christmas, and the lovely ornamental ones from Sarah McCraig Designs would grace any home.  Delightful pressed flower and leaf ornamented wooden boxes by Anne Riddick somehow preserved the natural colours with great vividness. There were also reasonably priced and high quality local art photographs from Rod and Pauline Ireland The Out There People in a variety of sizes to suit your space, and postcard books of Cumbrian prehistoric sites and a Prehistoric Sites Trump card game by Charles and Kimberly Paxton of

There were fine local ceramics from  Little Bird Studio, Stuart Broadhurst Ceramics and Gwen Bainbridge Pottery and exquisite jewellery from Fire Frost, Scrappo Worko and Pendragon Crafts. All glittering under the lights and wooden beams of the barn.

More images of  the crafts follow.

Colours of pressed leaves preserved and served on wooden coasters by Anne Riddick of Crafts Of The North

Colours of pressed leaves are preserved and served on wooden coasters by Anne Riddick of Crafts Of The North

Great ribbons

Great ribbons and haberdashery

Clever and delightful ceramics from Gwen Bainbridge Pottery at Brougham Hall.

Clever and delightful ceramics from Gwen Bainbridge Pottery at Brougham Hall.

Gwen Bainbridge's designs are based upon Elizabethan fabric patterns.

Gwen Bainbridge’s designs pictured here are based upon Elizabethan fabric patterns.

Lustrous jewellery from recycled silver items by Scrappo Worko,

Lustrous jewellery from recycled silver items by Scrappo Worko,

There was a broad range of good local food and drinks too. The drinks included organic pure pressed Cumbrian Apple Juice from Al and Jane Woodstrover of Beech Tree Farm, Reagill, also Jason Hill’s popular beers from the Eden Brewery at Brougham Hall, and for harder stuff, Bedrock Gin and Standing Stones Vodka from Vince Wilkins’ Spirit of the Lakes.  Bet you didn’t know that Cumbria has its own gin and vodka distillery! As always  drink responsibly.

Stocking fillers - Cumbrian prehistoric sites card games and organic Cumbrian apple juice will be just some of the local produce available at The Invisible Orchard this Saturday, 14th Dec.

Stocking fillers – Cumbrian prehistoric sites card games and apple rings from and organic Cumbrian apple juice from Beech Tree Farm, Reagill.

Bedrock Gin and Satnding Stones Vodka by Spirit of The Lakes.

Bedrock Gin and Standing Stones Vodka by Spirit of The Lakes.
Those of legal drinking age see their site

Great local beers from Jason Hill's Eden Brewery of Brougham Hall.

Great local beers from Jason Hill’s Eden Brewery of Brougham Hall.

High quality foods included tasty chocolates and Fudge, Northern Fells’ reared venison and beef from Deer ‘n Dexter, Free range poultry from Knipey’s Heartwood Poultry (you’ve got to love his hat!), choice baked goods from Country Fare and Nana Day, Bessy Beck’s awesome Smoked Trout and the formidably delicious Winter Tarn Cheese. Even the offering for breakfasts was top-notch with Rachael’s Kitchen Granola and Dalemain Marmalade.

Good condiments are absolutely essential for festive feeding and with Elliot’s Chutneys and Mr.Vikki’s extremely yummy spicy piccalillis at your elbow, those turkey left-overs will be a delight rather than a chore!

Flavourful cheeses from Winter Tarn organic cheese specialists, fine stilton

Flavourful cheeses from Winter Tarn fine and organic cheese specialists, fine stilton and Withnail Blue

Happy free range poultry makes for tasty dinners! Mr. Knipey pictured here in a comical hat, has a good selection.

There’s no mystery about it – happy free range poultry makes for tasty dinners! Mr. Knipey has a good selection from Tebay in the Orton Valley.

Fresh and smoked trout from Bessy Beck's fresh waters in the Orton Valley!

Fantastic Cumbrian  fresh and smoked trout from Bessy Beck‘s fresh waters in the Orton Valley!

Elliott's Chutneys and Picalilli.

“It was a really good day” Lots of people reach for Elliott’s Chutneys and Piccalilli as great condiments for their meals.

Local baked goods for all the family from Dalefoot Bakery!

Local baked goods for all the family from Country Fare!

It's all about good taste. fine baked goods from Becky Day's Nana Days  call 07572 404400

It’s all about good taste. fine baked goods from Becky Day’s Nana Days – call 07572 404400

Award-winning, tasty, hot and spicy condiments from Mr. Vikki.

Award-winning, tasty, hot and spicy condiments from Mr. Vikki.

Dalemain's award-winning marmalade! Need I say more?

Dalemain’s award-winning marmalade! Treat your tongue to some, you won’t regret it.

Another treat for the breakfast table! Rachael's premium granola is packed with good grains, seeds and dried fruits. Good flavour , texture and micro-nutrients abound!

Another treat for the breakfast table! Rachael’s kitchen premium granola is packed with good grains, seeds and dried fruits. Good flavour , texture and micro-nutrients abound!

Scrummy Vanilla Fudge from Loopy Lisa.

Scrummy Vanilla Fudge from Loopy Lisa. Bags of taste and bags of awards! 

After the festive feeding and partying it only remains to make a date in your new diaries for next year’s Askham Christmas Market, it will be Sunday December 7th 2014!

NB. Charles Paxton received no remuneration for writing this article, but he did gain from selling his goods at the market and accrued experience with his new camera.


Circles in stone part 1. The Cumbrian Sculpture Valley at High Head

High Head Sculpture Valley

High Head Sculpture Valley, much to discover

We have recently learned that though the Stone Circle will still be accessible after December 21st, you should endeavour to make your visit before December 21st because the visitors’ centre and cafe will be closed after that. Call 016974 73552 to place your reservations for Christmas dinner.

High Head Sundial by Brian Cowper

The Sculptor’s Hands, High Head Sundial by Brian Cowper

sundialWe found High Head Sculpture Valley to be a delightful sun trap with a distinctly wild feel to it. Ive beck runs through it, feeding the wetland section and providing home to Otters, Water rats, Kingfishers and other wildlife, the sculptures are situated amongst the abundant foliage, and open spaces linked by paths, bull-rushes, willows and other trees in a pleasant naturalistic integration.  If you came upon the haunting vision of a faun with Pan-pipes beside the island stilt-house, it wouldn’t seem entirely out of place. Sculptural works by Jonathan Stamper abound, be sure to bring your camera, denizens of this Eden include a glass snake and brilliant giant butterfly.

Certainly, if you enjoy sculpture, particularly of the outdoor variety, then consider making a visit to High Head, for there is much to see here for visitors of all ages, there’s a children’s narrative in sculpture and good play area for children with a charming hollow tree and swing set, so it is family friendly. It is worth taking time over the exploration. After exploring the sculptures you can then refresh yourselves with good farmhouse cooking and browse the artwork within. That is what we did.

The first sculpture greets you at the entrance and just beside the parking lot there are more, they feed down past the visitor centre with its gallery,  cafe and Spa and into the wooded valley and beyond, after a short walk through pasture to the crest of a hill a handsome stone circle emerges within a grove of native deciduous trees. There is a sense of surprise and discovery about your encounters with these artworks, one moment you aren’t aware of them, the next, they are in your world and you in theirs.

Stunning iron butterfly sculpture at High Head Sculpture Valley

Here’s a glorious iron butterfly. In the garden of Eden, baby …

I came to hear of High Head while researching prehistoric sites in Cumbria for an ANA Wingspan in-flight magazine article. In the course of visiting some of Cumbria’s amazingly rich prehistoric heritage it struck me as clearly impossible to ask the Neolithic and Bronze Age sculptors why they were erecting stone circles where they did and what moved them to do it, so I was very keen to talk with the contemporary  Prehistoric Artist, Brian Cowper about Cumbria’s Stone Circles. He is in a better position than most to help us understand stone circle constructions because he has made a thorough study of them both here and abroad, and has been commissioned to design and build circles for both the public and private sectors.

Brian loves neolithic sites and they inspire much of his work, which is very good. Formerly a lecturer in sculpture at University College Of  St Martin, Lancaster, Brian has a thorough grounding in shaping his medium, stone.

Axe sculpture by Brian Cowper

Axe sculpture by Brian Cowper

His Sun dial for High Head is sculpted of polished limestone and is the result of meticulous calculations and set up with strict observance to ensure that the sun shines through in just the right place at one specific time of two days, noon on the equinoxes.  But don’t wait until then to visit, because the interaction of these sculptures with their seasonal surroundings is worth seeing.

Brian has  designed and erected a stone circle for the owners at High Head and was kind enough to show us this work and to lend us some good reading material to help my wife and I better understand Cumbria’s prehistoric art and architecture.

The High Head Circle like many Cumbrian Stone Circles: Long Meg and her daughters, Knipe Scar, Iron Hill and Castlerigg    are aligned to the mighty saddlebacked fell, Blencathra.

The High Head Circle like many Cumbrian Stone Circles: Long Meg and her daughters, Knipe Scar, Iron Hill and Castlerigg are aligned to the mighty saddlebacked fell, Blencathra.

The High Head Circle is of red sandstone and has cardinal and astronomical alignment.

The High Head Circle is of red sandstone and has landscape and astronomical alignment. Like the Gamelands circle, near Orton, it is aligned  to the rising of the Moon, but some stones have other, private, significance in their own right.

Brian was kind enough to discuss issues that had been puzzling us and clarify some common confusions. He says that one commonly held misconception is that they needed vast numbers of people to move and erect the stones. Yes, they were determined and their action was coordinated, but stone was their medium too.

We asked him why, in his opinion, early Britons had built these structures where they did and what they might have been for. Brian clarified from the outset that though Birkrigg,  Castlerigg and other circles have been attributed to Druids, these structures have nothing whatsoever to do with them. These sites pre-date the Druidicism vilified by the Romans  by thousands of years. He thinks that the structures and their sites are intimately linked with the surrounding landscape and cosmos, and that the  sites are usually within view of significant landscape features and/or other sites.  He drew our attention to the sense of surprise, discovery and succession that is characteristic of coming upon them and stressed that this was an intentional factor both in their siting and creation. Even when you are looking for them and have the best guidebook (Robert W.E. Farrah’s A Guide To The Stone Circles Of Cumbria ), your realisation of their presence tends to be surprising. It’s a true, deep seated, visceral reaction to them that William Wordsworth captured in his poem when Long Meg and her Daughters took him by surprise.

“A weight of awe not easy to be borne  

Fell suddenly upon my spirit – cast,”

These ancient architects were concious of cardinal points and astronomical cycles and factored these orientations into their site construction in many cases. Not just within the construction of each site, one stone in relation to another, but also the site as a whole in relation to other sites and to key landscape features. The alignments of sites with each other have been well documented. Ley lines, such as the Belinus line have been plotted on maps, they don’t just follow obvious transit routes such as the Lune and Lowther valley, but also traverse steep rises, fells and dales. Gamelands and Gaythorne monuments seem aligned with Appleby.

These days we have come to associate straight roads with the discipline of the Romans, but straight routes would have been very important to pedestrian hunter gatherers who would be very fit and would prefer to climb a steep slope directly, on all fours for stretches if need be, rather than zigzag to reduce the angle of ascent.

Brian feels certain that stone circles were civilization centres, important focal points around which all kinds of activities would take place including but not limited to barter trade in polished stone axes and other items, there would also likely have been social and religious rites, actions of law and of celebration,  education and information exchange and magic, these sites would likely have been important for respite and healing, the scientific centres too. They were usually sited near water that would have enabled protracted stays. They were made to powerfully assist their hardy makers survive and prosper in their tough world.

This conforms to information we gleaned from a lecture by Archaeologist Tom Clare and his excellent book ( Prehistoric Monuments of The Lake District ) that the earliest circles don’t seem to have been used for burials originally, that seems to have been a later bronze age introduction. Professor Clare stressed how little material has been found in excavations  within stone circles. It seems that people didn’t originally discard items and bodies within these sacred spaces.

Brian Cowper's stone circle at High Head.

Brian Cowper’s stone circle at High Head  seen here under feather cloud, represents a continuance of a Cumbrian tradition that spans 6 milennia and despite considerable archaeological study retains most of its mystery.

We returned to the visitors’ centre for a pleasant lunch in their cafe. High Head’ s Cafe serves a variety of freshly prepared light lunches and delicious home made cakes (ingredients locally sourced when possible). The staff are very amiable and there’s a shop with a good range of art work,  Made In Cumbria products and nice children’s clothes. High Head also has two holiday cottages available for rent and a health spa. It’s a fine example of farm diversification.

Friendly service and good food at High Head's cafe

Friendly service and good food at High Head’s tearoom

The cafe at High Head Sculpture Valley

High Head Sculpture Valley has indoor and al fresco dining.

More stone circles to come in my next article.

High Head is open everyday except Wednesdays from November to December 21st 10.30 to 16.00

Call 016974 73552 for further information and see

Big Society Celebrated – Andrew Stunell MP Lays First Brick On Affordable Housing Project

Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government with responsibilities for Housing and the Big Society laid the first brick in the Lyvennet Community Trust's affordable housing project.

Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government with responsibilities for Housing and the Big Society laid the first brick in the Lyvennet Community Trust's affordable housing project.

Tuesday 19th July – Crosby Ravensworth enjoyed a ministerial visit from Andrew Stunell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government with responsibilities for Housing and the Big Society. The rain held off as this personable gentleman laid the first brick in the Lyvennet Community Trust‘s affordable housing project. He spoke at length with members of the community about the project and was clearly impressed by the dedication, determination and drive demonstrated by Mr. David Graham, Chair of the LCT and the others members of the trust involved in having achieved so much.

David discussed the plans with the MP and Mr. Gordon Nicholson before the commemorative brick was laid.

David discussed the plans with the MP and Mr. Gordon Nicholson before the commemorative brick was laid.

There was a nice crowd and friendly atmosphere at the ceremonial brick-laying

After celebratory applause and photography Andrew walked with the crowd up to The Butcher’s Arms community pub. Here he was met in the doorway by a lad with a spade who’d paused to take a breather – the volunteers had been hard at it. Andrew inspected progress and was full of praise for the hardworking volunteers’ efforts, he then delivered a very encouraging speech in the soon-to-be completed bar area. In the course of his speech he remarked upon the exemplary nature of the project, the importance of maintaining the pub as the heart of the community and as service hub and the delightful scenery which he felt sure would be powerfully attractive to visiting patrons, of which, he declared, he expected to be one!

For a holiday with a difference, you could stay at Trainlands until the cows come home!

Trainlands B&B

In fact you can stay at this rather lovely 17th Century  Westmorland farm house a good deal longer than that, because in addition to being a very welcoming and cozy family-run bed & breakfast operation, Trainlands also happens to be a working dairy farm! Here the cows really do come home  – on a regular basis, for milking. What is more, as check-out for a one night stay isn’t until 10 am it is possible for a Trainlands guest to watch the  ‘girls’ come and go, udders swinging, in their traditional commute from field to milking shed as generations of cows have done here for centuries before them.

Trainlands’ proprietors, Carol and David Bousfield have run the farm for dairy and beef since 1969 and they love the farming life. It is people like them that maintain the land and keep the Eden Valley in the state that we know and love. If you’ve watched BBC’s Country File or the SpringWatch Lambing special recently, then you’ll probably know that farms no longer tend to support families these days, counter-intuitive though it seems, the economics of farming nowadays dictate that families must support their farms! Welcoming guests for B&B holidays is a sensible form of diversification when you consider that Europe’s single most popular tourist destination, The Lake District National Park, is currently within just half an hour’s drive from Trainlands. I say currently not because we anticipate some tectonic shift in the near future, but because the  staff of Natural England are considering expanding the borders of either The Lake District or North Yorkshire National Parks to include the neighbouring Orton Fells. This would bring a National Park practically to Trainlands’ doorstep.

Furthermore, when you have free range hens laying scrummy brown eggs every morning, it would seem selfish not to share them! I can still remember the shock of experiencing my first really fresh farm egg when on holiday in Cumbria as a boy. The white was firm, the yolk ran golden and succulent – I just couldn’t imagine that such a fine egg could come from the same type of creature as the flabby, tired, many days old eggs of my previous experience.  Yes, the world turned for me that day, new standards were set and I’ve been an egg critic ever since. Not an egg ‘snob’, I like to think, but rather a discerning judge of oval character.

Now I shall let you be the judge, but it’s only fair to warn you that after a sojourn at Trainlands’ breakfast table you might well end up saying the same sort of thing of Carol’s home made preserves as I just did for my first real country egg. There are jams and then there are jams. To say that Carol’s proud of her preserves should indicate that you can expect great things from them and might end up, for ever more, a cultured critic of jams and marmalades!

This area isn’t named Eden out of vanity, the gently rolling hill and vale topography is very pleasant to walk and drive through from spring to winter. Watching the spring lambs gamboling, pronking  and playing ‘king of the castle’ is an experience likely to revitalise even the most jaded and world-weary of us. Nestled comfortably in its secluded valley, you’ll feel worlds away from the stress of the city at Trainlands and yet well placed to enjoy the rural splendours of the Eden Valley, Lake District and Penines without paying the higher prices of  ‘Honeypot’ centre accommodation. Trainlands’ guest rooms are clean, bright and colour themed and there’s a snug living room to relax in after a day’s adventuring in the fresh country air.

What sort of guests do they have and how do rate their stays, I wondered? Carol explained that they host a wide variety of guests including families, couples, cycling groups, fell and coast-to-coast walkers.

Our conversation then turned to the topic of wildlife, as I’d spotted a red squirrel. Apparently there are also hares and badgers nearby and a good variety of seasonal and resident wild birds.

The Bousfields talked a bit about places to visit and things to do and see in the immediate area, recommending visitors to see Orton scar and Sunbiggin Tarn – the richness of Lakeland of course, is on the doorstep.

All things considered, Eden does make an excellent base for a recession busting family holiday in the northwest, being near both the M6 and A66 visitors are within easy striking distance of memorable day trips to Lakeland, The North Yorkshire National Park, the Penines, Kendal, Penrith or Carlisle,  Hadrian’s Wall and all interesting points in between.  For those who enjoy special train journeys, a ride on the Carlisle-Settle railway is a must, it can be joined at the nearby market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland (famous for its annual Gypsy Horse Fair in June).

In addition to all this, staying on a working hill farm adds that interesting extra dimension to the holiday and you’d be hard pressed to find a more welcoming spot to stay than Trainlands.

For more information including booking procedures please see Trainlands’ website or simply call them up on 017683 51249

Big Society Exemplified In Grand Visions For Fast Internet In Rural Cumbria – Part I

Mapping Our Access To The Information Superhighway -Penrith And The Borders Broadband Conference Shows That We Really Can Connect Cumbria’s ‘Final Third’ To The High Speed Lanes – if community engagement is sufficiently enthusiastic.

For Rory Stewart’s Broadband Website with an increasing array of conference related resources Please Click Here
Many, many thanks to our citizen reporter John Popham for filming and mounting his video on Youtube

PART I The Introduction and overview

(first in a series written between bouts of Apple Juicing)

Living near Penrith as I do, I’m used to seeing grand visions in the Rheged Visitor Centre’s excellent Imax auditoria – super high definition (and 3D) films of Ancient Egypt, The Kingdom of Rheged, Rainforest life, The Himalayas and Dinosaurs being notable examples, but I scarcely hoped to see the complexity of connecting our remote rural communities to high speed broadband covered so comprehensively and with such clarity as I did yesterday. It’s an interesting observation that the very conditions that make high-speed connectivity rather tricky around here are the ones that make it so important – anything that facilitates business, education, social networking, security and telemedecine development in remote rural areas has got to be a very good thing. I, for one, am counting on Rory’s initiative to work – because I sell and maintain websites, I like them to be visually attractive and to load quickly for my customers and their customers. That’s me – always wanting the moon, but I was gratified to learn at Rheged yesterday that it wasn’t just me who wants this moon – the reason that the Cumbrian networks are slowing down is that we Cumbrians are heavy users. We are prosumers (producer/consumers) exchanging large files on a regular basis, slapping up our Youtube and lapping up our iplayer video, TV, movies and on-line gaming. The great advances that Cumbria made in first generation access (99% availability by 2008 according to Richard Walters, CEO of Commendium) are starting to feel ready to be expanded upon. It’s not just our younger end that are sucking up the bandwidth now – the silver-haired web surfers are increasing in number, and why not? There’s just as much for us all on the net – and traders are fully cognisant of where the greater spending power resides.

A glance at some of the name badges in the foyer confirmed that this was an event of consequence – Rory Stewart’s Broadband Conference had gathered key figures in Government, the private sector, Education and Cumbrian communities and even some American experts, including some of the worlds ‘black-belt’ gurus of high speed connectivity under one roof in an event that was as well-planned as it was smoothly executed. Rheged made a fine venue for the conference.

Now follows a very brief and consolidated digest of what ensued in the first part of the conference, written to the best of my understanding which is admittedly incomplete ( a great deal was said and most of it was new to me and weighty) – I’ll attempt to complete it in later articles and I’d welcome any additional information that will beef-up or correct my account where necessary.

Our MP kicked off the conference with a punchy welcoming address to prepare us for the day ahead – he reminded us of the growing necessity to provide all our communities with access to realistically affordable future-proof broadband for lasting prosperous regional, national and international interactivity. He stressed the crucial element of community involvement, and the ‘do-ability’ of the task despite the complexity of the issues. He  promised to fight hard to facilitate community access to existing bandwidth through a shared enhancement of the CLEO fibre-optic network (established by CLEO from The University of Lancaster) via a Parish pump analogy. If government provides the green cabinets in the communities, it’s up to us to complete the last mile, i.e. get the fibre to our residences or to a transmitter that can send and receive wireless internet signals from devices in or on our homes and public buildings. He identified successful local models in the form of the Great Asby Broadband group and the Alston Cybermoor group and emphasised the likelihood of the need to employ multiple solutions within most communities. He also anticipated that things may become a bit heated at the conference as there are competing interests in terms of provision, but his hope that this wouldn’t become acrimonious was realised as speakers made their points positively and presented their own cases constructively. No mud was slung and at 5 o’clock I was impressed by the fact that it wasn’t all going to be about wires, fibres and fibre served wireless and that satellite will doubtlessly serve some remote homes, and if you are in one such now and you want your broadband very soon – then you may be prepared to pay the £25-£50 a month to secure a satellite service. For Next Generation Access by 2015 (speeds in the region of 50 to 100 Mbps that can handle anticipated future demands for very heavy data transfer) however, it is extremely likely that an optical fibre network will be doing the work.

Rory Stewart (Member of Parliament for Penrith and the Border) Introductory Speech


Ministerial Address by Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries

Our Minister of Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP, was the first guest speaker and he set the scene for us presenting a clear correlation between fast internet access and improved business and cultural activity. Referring to work that he had completed in a July 2010 consultation paper he stated that it was very necessary to open up existing public infrastructure in order to reach the government’s 2015 targets of universal service provision of Next Generation Access. He alluded to considerable spectra of unused bandwidth that could be efficiently used and the savings that could be achieved by communities laying their own fibre optic cables, costs of £120 per meter could be reduced to £20 per meter – and you’ve got local employment as a serendipitous spin-off.  Shall we dig out our spades? Some of us can, others may prefer to hire a friendly neighbouring Farmer’s Mole plough. More on that in a later article!

Furthermore, he announced that some of the £200,000,000 ‘underspend’ that had been earmarked for the national digital TV switchover could be employed to Cumbria’s benefit in public-private partnerships if people in communities demonstrated sufficient enthusiasm and engagement. Eden’s relatively small population might reasonably expect help to the tune of about £4 or 5 million – which might be sufficient if we’re fully engaged, make the wisest decisions and do our bit.

We next heard from a series of expert panels who guided us through the fascinating areas of: existing coverage (patchy and unlikely to meet govt. targets without a major effort), rural needs (increasingly heavy) and the potential that the technology offers (quality-of-life altering). Broadband was introduced as a fourth utility – increasingly essential in modern life, soon to be seen as equally essential as piped water. In many areas, the number one concern after affordable housing, in others out-ranking affordable housing. Adrian Wooster (Director of JON Exchange) told us about ‘Not Spots’ (places with no broadband access) and ‘Grot spots’ (places with slow broadband access). A series of maps showed the low number of providers (Penrith had 2) and where fast internet could not be found in the constituency. Most of Eden was pictured in red with a series of green circles showing communities that had some broadband access. The needs for fast broadband hinged upon potential impacts on shopping for goods and services, lifelong learning, social networking, telemedicine, business communication and connection to services – 89% of government services are available on the internet currently. These needs and potentials were further expanded upon by successive speakers and will be covered in greater detail in Part Two. It was later apparent that some of the maps could already be updated (this showing the mercurial realities of the issue).

Adrian Wooster (Director of JON Exchange)

Dr. Stuart Burgess (Chairman of The Commission for Rural Communities)

William Davies (Vice President of Technology Policy Research In Motion)

BT’s Bill Murphy, the managing director of Next Generation Access BT described what BT has achieved so far (running 5500 exchanges nationwide, all but 26)  serving millions of customers directly and millions more through 1400 communications providers) and what they hope to achieve yet through a £2.5 billion investment (the largest single private sector investment in broadband anywhere, ever), aiming for 70-80% coverage at 2Mbps or more by the end of 2012, and alluding to R&D in progress aiming for speeds of up to 40 Mbps over existing copper wire and hinting at hitherto untapped potentials in the use of Ethernet. Undoubtedly BT will be playing a part in speeding up connectivity for a lot of our communities, but what of the remaining 20-30% of people? And are they likely to be … you?

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of Next Generation Access BT

The problem of getting backhaul (the power to upload data back onto the internet) was examined next, and in detail. Many people feel that the big providers , BT and Virgin are understandably likely to be very preoccupied with speeding up services for our urban populace and our small remote communities are likely to remain in the slowest lanes of the superhighway. That’s been the pattern so far and the next speaker, Barry Forde (NGA advisor to the government and key brain behind the CLEO network for schools) explained why it was necessary to break with that pattern and how it could be done. He pointed out that though Eden is 97.5% rural with half our population living in small villages and hamlets (so we’re not all likely to be part of BT’s 70-80%), we are blessed with three potential sources of public access to the core internet via fibre-optic cables, the Network Rail optical fibre network that runs alongside the Carlisle Settle railway track, and the CLEO network – a very forward-thinking program to connect our schools (Primary at 10 Mbps and Secondary and higher at 100 Mbps) and finally our NHS medical centres at 100 Mbps. While it could cost upwards of £40,000 to get 100Mbps backhaul independently, it would cost very much less to connect to the existing infrastructure provided that it was opened up. He advocated liberating that potential in unused bandwidth and sharing the costs in return for the access – boosting up the Primary schools’ backhaul to 100Mbps and sharing that cost with the local community users, tapping in to the Network rail and NHS networks too where that was feasible and likewise defraying costs. He was very persuasive and witty.

Barry Forde (NGA advisor to the government and key brain behind the CLEO network for schools)

Rory Stewart pointed out the usefulness of overlaying the maps that had been shown so far, so that we could all see how this was all fitting together.

I shall continue this account and tell you some of what the following speakers said in part 2 on another day.

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Beech Tree Farm 100% Pure Pressed Eden Valley Apple Juice!

Beech Tree Farm 100% Pure Pressed Eden Valley Apple Juice!

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Buy a share in a fine Cumbrian pub – on Ebay!

Yes, you can buy a share in The Butcher’s Arms, Crosby Ravensworth on Ebay now!  Click here to see the listing .

Here is what the site says:

“Thank you for looking at our listing.

Please read on and find out more about the opportunity to own a piece of your very own pub.

We are selling shares in the Butcher’s Arms public house in Crosby Ravensworth. Each share has a value of £1500 and we need to sell over 200 to raise the funds to buy the pub outright. So far we have pledges, from the local community alone, for sale of 104 shares.

We need your help to raise the extra needed to keep the pub going, secure its future and enable it to expand into better things.

Residents have set up the Lyvennet Community Trust (LCT) as a way of getting all the ideas under one roof and helping community projects move forward. Please visit the LCT website, where you can find out more information about the trust’s ideas regarding the Butcher’s Arms and other community activities.

We only want your pledges at this stage. We need you email us on and leave your contact details: name, telephone number and email address and we will contact you by return and give you all the information you need to go further.

Please help save our pub.

Over the years our community has seen a creeping wave of closures in the village. The village shop, the Sun Hotel, the Post Office and we almost lost St. Lawrence’s church “The Cathedral of Westmorland”. What will be next?

The LCT has explored other similar projects from around the country. The Hesket Newmarket model where the community formed a co-operative and bought and now run “The Old Crown” pub is an excellent example. There is little doubt that this approach has been extremely successful with the pub building a new restaurant and enlarging the kitchens with a resultant significant turnover increase. Without doubt one key element is that the community now owns this key village asset. It is our belief, and seems to be borne out by what is happening in Hesket Newmarket, that local ownership leads to good local support and increased interest and prospects for the future.

Ideas for expanding the pub include converting outside buildings into a micro brewery, which would provide local work as well as supplying beer to the pub and other pubs in the area. The Butcher’s Arms currently has very high percentage sales of real ales and it would be good to build on that.

The steps in order to purchase the pub:

· Set up a management Group

· Gather share pledges

· Carry out a commercial valuation and survey

· Seek grant funding

· Claim the pledged money and buy the pub

· Draw up tenancy documents

· Advertise and select tenants

· Open the pub

· When funds allow pay a dividend (The Old Crown paid 3% this year)

· Improve the pub and increase the range of services for the community.

· Make the “pub the hub” of the community

If you are interested in buying a share in our pub please contact us at:

We must emphasise that by giving us your details all you are doing is showing an interest. No money will be asked for from you until we have obtained enough share pledges for the purchase to proceed. At that point you can finally decide if you wish to purchase a share (or possibly more than one).

Once the pub is re-opened you and your friends will be able to visit, and enjoy a pint in, YOUR PUB!

The Butcher’s Arms is in the small rural village of Crosby Ravensworth just to the East of the Lake District National Park. Crosby Ravensworth sits below Crosby Fell at the Southern end of the Lyvennet Valley. The river Lyvennet runs from its origins at Black Dub on Crosby Fell northwards through the small villages of Maulds Meaburn and King’s Meaburn before joining the River Eden on its journey to the coast at Carlisle.

Shap is within 4 miles with access onto the M6 at Junction 39 and the A6 which gives access to Penrith (15 miles) and Kendal (19 miles). The Butchers Arms lies at the centre of the village with views across the surrounding upland countryside.

Property details:

the inn is built in local stone construction with rendered elevations pitched tiled roof and extension. The accommodation includes:-



4.52m x 4.59 m with seating for around 20, stone fireplace with wood burning stove, timber bar servery with panelled front and leading through to;

6.98m x 4.49m, with covers for around 30, timber beams and fireplace and passageway leading to toilets and beer garden/ smoking shelter;


9.13m max x 4.48m max, having fireplace with wood burning stove, timber bar servery, seating for around 32, pool table, darts board, flat screen TV and wall mounted CD player;

7.38m x 2.75m, with non slip floor, tiled walls stainless steel sink unit and fully equipped including stainless steel worktops, 6 ring gas range and oven, range of fridge/ freezers etc;


with access to



twin with built in cupboard;

family room;



Private owners Accommodation

3.83m x 3.62m;

6.94m x 4.97m, with 2 Velux roof lights, timber floor and kitchen corner;

with corner spa bath, WC and wash hand basin;


Enclosed yard with a shelter providing a smoking solution, small beer garden, double garage and store room.

Once more, just a reminder.

If you are interested in buying a share in our pub please contact us at:

We must emphasise that by giving us your details all you are doing is showing an interest. NO money will be asked for from you until we have obtained enough share pledges for the purchase to proceed. At that point you can finally decide if you wish to purchase a share (or possibly more than one).

To find out more about The Butcher’s Arms, Crosby and the surrounding area search Google or follow one of these links;-

Thanks for looking and please tell your friends about us and our pub, they too may want to own a part of their very own pub.