We have had another exciting month at Derwentwater, with an open afternoon for local teachers and activity providers; lots of improvement works; visits from veterinary students, Merchant Navy cadet officers, and astronomers; and a crew from Greatcoat Films, filming a music video for Gaz Coombes (spot our waterfall and Ashness Jetty if you want to view the photos and film here and here).
We are off to eat special cake now, made by our German volunteers for one of their birthdays: what a great way to start the month!
We have already had some great volunteers this year, and here we have an interview with Alexandra, from Cologne in Germany, one of our current live-in Workaway volunteers. Next month we will feature Caroline, from Dresden in Germany, who is also volunteering with us at the moment.
What were you doing before you came to Derwentwater?
I have just finished my BA in Special Education at the University of Cologne. Last month I was writing my dissertation and so I am really enjoying the physical work that I am doing here.
Why did you want to volunteer at Derwentwater?
One of my subjects is English and I want to practice it here. I think confidence in speaking English is really important for becoming an English teacher, and I am even starting to think in English at the moment! Furthermore, I decided to come here because I wanted to enjoy nature. I’ve always enjoyed walking at home, but here the walking (particularly up hills) is really, really rewarding.
Please can you share some of the observations/experiences that you have had so far?
I enjoyed really good views from Bleaberry Fell and Latrigg, but I want to do more. The landscape is so beautiful and it seems that it has a really good influence on the people who live here. They seem to be relaxed, and I have also calmed down here. I have also noticed that most of the people here are really open-minded and friendly: all of the staff have been very welcoming, and I have even had friendly greetings from ramblers and strangers in the street. I like your ‘Hey ya’: it sounds quite good. And I’m impressed with your sportiness (all of you). My plan is to become really fit in cycling and walking up hills while I’m here, and hopefully this eagerness will last in Cologne. I’ll try to take this joy of nature and calmness home.
Thank you Alexandra: we hope all this stands you in good stead for the MA you are starting when you return to Cologne.
On a cold Friday evening, at about 9.30pm, Paddington Bear stepped off the coach and carried his suitcase up the driveway to Derwentwater Independent Hostel, followed by Harry Potter, Lord Farquaad, and over 80 other fancily dressed friends. Who would have thought that all these characters were veterinary students too?!
But so it was: for two nights we hosted the Halfway Holiday for the Year 3 Veterinary Science students from the University of Liverpool, and oh, how they partied! Organised with great enthusiasm and care by two of the students, Sam and Charlotte, the entire year group enjoyed dancing, canoeing, dragon boating, climbing, ghyll scrambling (adventure activities with Glaramara and Plattyplus), walking, watching the Six Nations Rugby, a fun awards ceremony, and all the hostel meals. When they were not in fancy dress, everyone was wearing Halfway Holiday polo shirts, designed especially for the occasion. What will the celebrations be like when they complete the full 5-year course?! We wish them all good luck in getting to that stage.
We were very impressed by the Nautical Studies group who came to us for the first time in February. One set of students battled blizzards and choppy water in their kayaking and canoeing sessions on Derwent Water, while the next set had to contend with large swathes of ice on the lake. The second set had some beautifully calm and sunny days though, and the instructors experienced the whole range of conditions! The group leader, Simon, has written this report for us:
‘The Fleetwood Nautical Campus at Blackpool and The Fylde College is one of the only places in the UK to offer Cadet Officer Courses, training people from all over the world to become officers in the Merchant Navy. Students complete an HNC or HND in Nautical Studies, learning all the necessary skills in navigation, offshore survival, firefighting and more to become an Engineering or Deck Officer on board a ship. Most of the students are sponsored by companies such as BP, RFA, Fishers, and Cunard.
At the beginning of their Fleetwood studies all of the new students engage in a residential week of challenging activities, designed to promote team-work and support their personal development towards adult careers as Merchant Navy officers.
We held two separate development residentials at the hostel, with instruction provided by Glaramara and Plattyplus. The program was a great success, with strong bonds forming between the students. This has encouraged them for the future, and established a great foundation for the three year course.’
The current exhibition (9th February – 17th May) at Keswick Museum and Art Gallery certainly lives up to its name The Grandest Views. As featured on BBC Countryfile, the exhibition shows models of Lakeland from Victorian times to the present day, exploring the changing technology for making precise maps and models of the landscape. There is also a giant Ordnance Survey floor map of the Lake District that you can walk over! Here is a link to more information about the exhibition: http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/
There will be even more ways to explore the landscape from 23rd May, with an exciting new exhibition called Wainwright: A Love Letter to the Lakeland Fells, all about the work of Alfred Wainwright, the man who so meticulously made hand-illustrated walking guides to the Lakeland fells. The exhibition is part of a wider project to bring together material relating to Wainwright, and there is a crowd funding campaign to help achieve this: www.igg.me/at/wainwright. There are even some prizes to be won! These include paragliding or gyroplane trips, photography tuition, and expert guided walks or runs, all centred on Wainwright and the Lakeland fells.
Keswick Museum is just 3 miles away from the hostel, in Fitz Park in Keswick, and it is open every day from 10 am to 4pm.
Early in February, when we saw a big black inflatable planetarium pressing against the sides of the dining room, we knew it was time to welcome Appleby Grammar School (Cumbria) and the astronomy experts Andrew Green and Dennis Ashton again. Here we have a report of their stay, written by two of the Appleby students:
‘Over two days we spent some time at Derwentwater Hostel to discover more about astronomy. The learning consisted of lectures led by Andrew and Dennis, who were both informative and friendly. Andrew led a lecture inside an inflatable planetarium, which delved into the history of constellations and the legends behind them. Meanwhile, Dennis centred his lectures on the formations of stars and planets and taught us things we’d never thought to be true. Thursday evening was spent in the hostel grounds, looking through a telescope at different constellations and planets (especially Jupiter).
The trip was exciting and enlightening; it was not only educational, but also the social aspects of it allowed us to become better friends and increase our knowledge of physics together. Our understanding of astronomy has greatly improved and our teachers deserve a big thanks for making the astronomy masterclass out of this world!’
Thank you to Daisy Coburn and Jess Daldry for writing this report, and wow, what a great photo: it certainly makes the hostel look other-worldly!
Every week there have been a few more changes in the hostel: it is really quite exciting! Room 3 and 4 have been re-painted, Room 3 and 6 have new carpets, we have new sofas in the lounge, there are lots more electric sockets, and we have new ovens and work surfaces in the self-catering kitchen. Phew! There are more improvements still to come, so we look forward to updating you, and perhaps to having you spot them in person too.