Through the eyes of a child…

“The house was stunning and we all loved it. Our favourite part was exploring and getting lost in the woods…”

letter lost in woods

This is from a thank-you letter sent to the Wordsworth family after the recent poetry awards for young people. Christopher Wordsworth and his mother, Susan, were here to present the prizes. And among the schools attending was a group from Bewcastle School, north of Carlisle. So far north that they are only six miles from the Scottish border.

So the Wordsworths were thrilled to receive a batch of letters from the children, several of whose poems were commended at the award ceremony. Especially the note that “we really enjoyed the drinks and nibbles because we were really hungry after our long drive”.

The prize-giving event is an opportunity for local people – well, Cumbrians, if not necessarily local – to visit what many see as a tourist attraction. “It’s on our doorstep yet we’ve never been before,” said one parent from Ambleside, who now recommends Rydal Mount to all her b&b guests.

And we always invite the youngsters to explore the gardens that William Wordsworth created, and which we are continually restoring in accordance with his plans. He would be thrilled to see the grounds being explored by young people loving the chance to run wild if just for a short time. They agreed with Dorothy Wordsworth who said: “Rydal Mount is the nicest place in the world for children”.

“It was like fairies live in the garden,” wrote Niamh from Bewcastle School. “My favourite part was when we ran away from the teachers.”

RM natural garden today

“..as if there were fairies in the garden..”

She sent us copies  of  pictures of daffodils, and the famous poem in their own handwriting, which she and her friends made, inspired by William Wordsworth.

letter from bewcastle school

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The refugee crisis that inspired our winning poet

 A perceptive and shocking account of the plight of refugees has won our annual poetry prize for young people.

Deep Waters by 12 year old Mayumi Singh is the winner of the Rydal Mount poetry prize , organised  – and judged – annually by Wiliam Wordsworth’s family.

It describes the terrifying and tragic journey of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean to safety.

One of the judges, Christopher Wordsworth, William’s great great great great grandson, said that Mayumi’s poem showed a deep concern for and understanding of the world around her. “It is very, very sad, but beautifully expressed,” he said.

Mayumi, sitting in Wordsworth's chair, reads her poem

Mayumi, sitting in Wordsworth’s chair, reads her poem

The competition, now in its sixth year, attracted nearly 200 entries this time. We invite entries from all Cumbrian schools, but even had one entry from further afield this year. Mayumi has won a trophy, a cash prize, and her poem will be framed and displayed in the house, alongside a portrait of Wordsworth, for all visitors to see.

Mayumi, a pupil at Windermere School, lives at Whitehaven and comes from an international background.

English teacher Mrs Lucy Baker said: “Mayumi is only Year 7 but she is a very serious thinker and has tremendous general knowledge. She is interested in international affairs and wrote the poem after hearing her father talk about the plight of the Syrian refugees.”

The theme of Deep Waters was chosen by the Wordsworth family, and attracted a wide range of interpretations. Along with Mayumi’s “overall winner” title, other awards went to:

  • Senior school winner: Harriet Rush – Windermere School
  • Senior school commended:
  • Shree Bhattacharjee – Bradford Grammar School
  • Libby Danby – Keswick School
  • Rowenna Hamilton – Windermere School
  • Juniors:
  • Winner: James Leech Sanders – Grasmere Primary
  • Commended:
  • Connor Little – Bewcastle Primary
  • Cecilia Kelly – Coniston Primary
  • Lily Lloyd – Flookburgh Primary
  • Seb Mason – Dean Primary
  • Woody Leece – Dean Primary
  • Holly Engleby – Ambleside Primary
  • Sam Arundale – Grasmere Primary
  • Thomas Metcalfe – Coniston Primary (the youngest, just six)

 

Deep Waters by Mayumi Singh

A boat. Waiting. 10pm. The sound of silence.

A line of people. Terrified. They get onto the boat. Some with lifejackets, others without.

They might not survive.

 But they want to escape from the place that was once filled with laughter and happiness,

that they once called ‘home’.

 Away.

  The captain starts sailing. It’s pitch black. All is calm but all is not bright.

The children’s eyes are filled with desperation.

They remember the days when their dreams were filled with wonder.

All they can dream about now is their horrified mother screaming.

 The journey takes a turn for the worse. A storm is heading their way. The waves become bigger.

The tension rises. The captain tries to divert. The people are terrified.

They are clinging onto the helpless boat. The boat turtles, children scream, mothers cling onto their precious babies.

 They are in the middle of the empty Mediterranean Ocean.

No hope. They go in deeper into the water.

Deeper and deeper and deeper.

 Till all we can see is a little girl’s doll. Floating away.

 

Entries now open for Wordsworth young poets prize

Dear  Teachers

The descendants of William Wordsworth invite entries from your pupils for the annual Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets.

All students at Cumbrian schools are eligible to take part. The theme this year is “Deep Waters”, which can be interpreted as the writer wishes. The winning poem will be framed and displayed alongside the work of the great poet in his former home, for thousands of visitors to see.

Entries should be typed in 12 or 14 point font, double spaced, and no longer than one side of A4 paper. Each entry should carry at the top of the page the name and age of the writer, and the school they attend. Entries which do not have these details cannot be put forward for judging.

They should be saved as individual Word documents, with no illustrations or artwork, please, and emailed as attachments to:

rydalpoetry@gmail.com

The closing date is Friday March 23. All who enter will be invited with parents and/or teachers to the award ceremony at Rydal Mount after the Easter vacation (date to be announced).

Please remember, every entry should have the pupil’s name, school and age, at the top above the poem. Thank you.

Garden prize comes back to Rydal again

autumn sky at rydal

We are thrilled to be winners once again of a first prize for our beautiful gardens here at Rydal Mount.

Once again we scooped the top accolade in the visitor attractions and historic houses category. The trophy was awarded by Ambleside Horticultural and Craft Society and Lakes Parish Council in the annual “parish in bloom” competition.

And we are certain that William Wordsworth himself would have been equally delighted. He used to say that he would have been a landscape gardener had he not been successful as a poet. We think he would be very pleased with our efforts today to restore these extensive grounds according to plans that he made.

And while we know that the gardens – and house – are loved by visitors from all over the world, it’s always gratifying to get local recognition too.

The hard work has been done by our gardeners Helen Green and Pauline Brumwell who are pictured here with the trophy.Rydal gardeners with trophy

 

 

“I wandered lonely” goes Dutch thanks to Wordsworth fans from Holland

A couple from the Netherlands who are social media ambassadors for the Lake District have translated Wordworth’s  Daffodils into Dutch.

Rob and Cobie te Nijenhuis fell in love with the poet’s work when they visited his home here at Rydal Mount this summer. Great fans of the Lakes, who had been coming here for 26 years, this was their first visit to this house  where William Wordsworth spend most of his life.

“We had seen Wordsworth’s grave and heard he wrote a poem about daffodils, but he’s not well known in the Netherlands,” said Rob, a retired banker from Hummelo.

All that is set to change as Rob, a prolific tweeter who spends much of his time on social media telling the world of the loveliness of the English Lakes,  has become a great Wordsworth fan. He translated the poem after he and Cobie visited Rydal this summer as our guests and he has now sent us a copy of the poem in Dutch.

rob and cobie at Rydal Mount

A story about the couple’s love affair with the Lakes has recently been published in their local newspaper.

“The Lake District is the most beautiful place in the world,” he said. “We love England, but especially the Lakes.”

Rob and Cobie, who works as a commercial publisher, have stayed in Little Langdale every holiday, originally at Wilson Place farm and then at Damson View cottage.

We were delighted to meet Rob and Cobie this summer, and will now put their translation of the poem on display in the house.

 

Narcissen, door William Wordsworth

Ik wandelde als een eenzame wolk

Die hoog over valleien en heuvels drijft

Toen ik opeens een menigte zag

Een leger gouden narcissen

Naast het meer,onder de bomen

Fladderend en dansend in de bries

 

Continue als de sterren schijnen

En op de Melkweg twinkelen

Ze strekten zich uit als een oneindige lijn

Langs de kant van een baai

In een flits zag ik er tienduizenden

Hun hoofden opengooiend in een levendige dans

 

De golven naast hun dansten: maar zij

Deden of zij de sprankelende golven ingleden

Een Poëet kon niet anders dan homo zijn

In zulk vrolijk gezelschap

Ik heb gekeken en gekeken, maar kleine gedachten

De weelde die de show mij had gebracht

 

Vaak, als ik op mijn divan lig

In vacante of nadenkende stemming

Knipperen op dat innerlijke oog

Welke het geluk van eenzaamheid is

En dan is mijn hart met geluk gevuld

En danst met de narcissen

 

Translation by Rob te Nijenhuis

Dutch fans of the Lakes finally meet Wordsworth

A Dutch couple who are social media ambassadors for the Lake District were treated to Cumbrian hospitality here – and met Wordsworth for the first time.

Rob and Cobie te Nijenhuis have been visiting the Lakes every summer for 26 years, but until this year they had never been to Wordsworth’s home Rydal Mount.

So when Rydal Mount’s curator Peter Elkington became a friend on Twitter, he decided to invite the couple to see the house, and sample a traditional Cumbrian cream tea.

rob and cobie at Rydal Mount

Rob, a retired banker from Hummelo, is a prolific tweeter and spends much of his time online telling the world of the loveliness of the English Lakes. A passionate fan of fine dining and a good cook, he also posts photos of food from top restaurants. His enthusiasm has won him a strong online following in the Lakes and this summer he and Cobie set out to meet some of their Twitter friends.

“The Lake District is the most beautiful place in the world,” he said. “We love England, but especially the Lakes.”

Rob and Cobie, who works as a commercial publisher, have stayed in Little Langdale every holiday, originally at Wilson Place farm and then at Damson View cottage.

“When we first came over, we headed to Windermere, but it was too crowded. So was Ambleside. At Elterwater there were no vacancies. It was late in the afternoon when we saw the B&B sign in Little Langdale. We never stayed anywhere else after that.”

The couple became friends with the owners, the Birkett family, but in recent years have found an extended family of friends on social media, and this time dined at the Cottage in the Wood at Braithwaite, L’Enclume at Cartmel, and Dodds in Ambleside, before  sampling scones and cream at the Rydal Mount tea room.

They were given a tour of the house but confessed to knowing very little about William Wordsworth. “He’s not very well known in the Netherlands. We’ve seen his grave in Grasmere, and we hear he wrote a poem about daffodils,” said Rob.

Peter Elkington said: “We have admired Rob’s enthusiasm for the Lakes, and we were delighted that he accepted our invitation. And now he does know considerably more about our famous poet.”

Our world heritage site: a place to sit and breathe

It’s rare in any summer that we have time to stop, sit and just appreciate the place that we call home, which was once a poet’s home. But this summer, following a gardening incident, I’ve been doing what the tourists do: sitting and looking and breathing the air.

Visitors talk of the tranquillity and serenity they experience here. As the world rushes headlong into chaos, they find that Rydal Mount – and particularly the garden – is a haven of peace. That’s not something you can package or label; we’re now in a World Heritage Site, and this is the heritage of our world.

Some comment that the atmosphere in the secluded areas of the gardens gives them an insight into how the location gave nature its voice in Wordsworth’s poetry. Others confess that until they came here, they had ignored the poetry and now found themselves drawn towards it.

RM natural garden today

“We visit lots of places of interest and a lot of them just become just another place to visit…another historic house,” said one family. “Rydal Mount has a charm all of its own and you really get a feel of what it must have been like to live here and be part of Wordsworth’s circle.”

And others don’t know who Wordsworth was. They’ve read none of the poems. But they come out of curiosity, or to escape the rain, or because the see the sign at the end of the lane. And when they get here, they tell us, it’s something of a spiritual experience. “Secluded” and “enchanted” are words we often find in the visitors’ book.

Yet this is not a remote location. It’s only a few hundred metres from the busiest main road through the Lakes. “But it really does feel like an escape into another world,” said a German tourist. “We want to just sit and breathe and let the madness of the world simply disappear.”

summer at Rydal Mount

And now I’m learning what they mean. We know how the house feels when all the visitors have gone for the day, but usually the gardens are a place of work, for planting and weeding and logging – and mowing. Now I’m forced to sit and rest, and reflect on the wisdom of the poet who, two centuries ago, saw the mess that man was making of his world. The lines were written in early spring, but they’re just as relevant now in high summer.

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

 

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

 

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:-

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

 

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

 

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?