Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The English Lake District & Cumbria… an unlikely source of inspiration for science-fiction?

On the Cumbrian fells
The English Lake District and Cumbria was the main source of inspiration for my science-fiction novel The First Sense. I’ve lived in Cumbria for twenty years but it got under my skin in the first 12 months. 

In The First Sense, Cumbria is the fictional ‘Lakes City.’ It retains natural beauty juxtaposed with futuristic urban architecture and culture. ‘Lakes City’ is known as ‘The Green City’ of Britain, and ‘The City of Sport,’ as it has a large number of unusual outdoor sports on offer, along with those we are more accustomed to now.  

So was The Lake District and Cumbria the only source of inspiration for my novel?

No. Here’s a list of the rest:  

Longing, love and loss. (So that’s three things, but they often come together, although not necessarily in that order)

Slivers of other cities: Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Bergamo, New York, Bruges, Oslo and Aarhus
Human intuition – something we all too often defer for conscious reasoning.

My love of creating recipes - when I had my restaurant Eclectic, one of the best things was coming up with new recipes each week. Good ingredients are magical because of their endless combinations.   
In my previous blog, I listed my favourite places in Southern part of the Lake District, now for North Lakes:

·   Wastwater. It’s such an unforgivingly serious and lonesome lake. This lake makes you feel like you’re the only person left in the world as you gaze into its deep, dark waters. Wastwater is the deepest lake in England and once named the ‘UK’s best view’ in The Telegraph .While you’re there, be sure to visit The Wasdale Head Inn at the head of the lake for a hearty meal and to replace the fluids you should have lost on your mammoth hike/climb/bike around Wasdale. 

·   For me, one of the most scenic drives in the Lake District is to Keswick from Ambleside on the A591. This road winds past Rydal Lake, Grasmere and Thirlmere before reaching the town of Keswick. Once there, I head to Café Bar 26 with my husband to work our way through the wine list and tapas. Sometimes this is followed by a performance at the Theatre by the Lake (it is what it says)

·   For absolutely fantastic food, steaks and a great selection of ales, I love Tweedies Bar at the Dale Lodge Hotel, Grasmere.

    The drive over Kirkstone Pass - with an altitude of 1,489 feet – has heart-stopping views. The Pass connects Ambleside to Patterdale and is aptly known as 'The Struggle.' At the top sits Kirkstone Pass Inn, the third highest pub in England, complete with a bunkhouse.

·   For pure decadence and old-fashioned glamour, you can’t beat Sharrow Bay Hotel for a champagne afternoon tea while gaze right out at Ullswater lake from your table. The calorific guilt can be worked off afterwards with a stroll in their beautiful hotel gardens.   

·   For camping with a difference, try a timber built, insulated ‘camping pod’ at The Quiet Site,Ullswater. These pod-like huts are beautifully crafted and suitable for all weathers - in fact, the moodier it is outside, the cosiest they are inside. While you’re there, don’t forget a walk up to the nearby waterfalls at Aira Force - take note of the trees on the way up, some of them are straight out of a fairy tale!

Another blog on Cumbria I am loving at the moment is Lake District Life by Chris Shaw  (twitter name @cragchris or @grasmerevillage Her blog contains some absolutely stunning photography from around the Lake District.

My novel The First Sense set in the Cumbria of the future is available from several online retailers. Please visit my website for more information. 

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