50th Beatrix Potter….and The Lake District

Beatrix Potter wrote those charming books about the little animals and her cat, her rabbits and her duck with whom she lived. She also had a husband. And a brother who painted and who drank himself to death.  She used her house and buildings in the town of Sawrey in some of he illustrations as well. I have always loved her stories, especially the story of Jemima Puddleduck because she was a gullible woman who went off with a smooth talking, nicely dressed, very elegant gentleman, like so many other women. And I have always liked Samuel Whiskers because he rolled Tom Kitten in dough and was going to cook and eat him. It is hard to find villains in Ms. Potter’s stories…I don’t include Farmer McGregor as I find him a kindred spirit, not a villain. But the thing I love most about Potter’s books and other works is her art work. There is something gentle and real about her pictures and when we had the opportunity to visit her home, a National Trust property along with four thousand acres of other farms she donated, we jumped at it. 

The door to her house is made of several huge, thick slabs of local slate. You can see this in the picture. This looks out on what was once a vegetable patch and I can imagine her standing there regarding maurading birds and small creatures in her garden.

Inside the house we saw the desk where she likely wrote the stories, her furnishings, her intricate fireplace and much more that was charming and comfortable. We also visited a ‘roadside attraction’ that was geared toward children but had enough charm for all. There were tiny mice in their houses, Peter Rabbit coming to grief and many other characters. One can get the flavor of the scenes represented by these photos of Peter’s downfall.

Also, I am sitting on the window seat with a picture from one of the books of that exact place. And those two old women? One of them is me and the other is a wax version of Beatrix. The little spinning wheel is sitting on top of a regular one and it is a spun by hand, an early version of the electric spinning wheel which sits on a table. It was a wonderful visit and I’m glad I have the photographs to remind me. We also visited Wray Castle that day which was notable only for the beautiful views and was otherwise just a castle. And tomorrow we are on our way to….

About Clio

I am an organic gardener with thirty years experience, a former minister, a former home-schooler, (they grew up), a current clarinet and flute player, knitter and spinner, and swimmer. I am interested in food security issues, food and policy issues, food preservation and encouraging people to become more aware and pro-active about their own food supply. I teach home food preservation, especially water bath and pressure canning, beginning organic gardening using bio-intensive methods, and give talks on food and food security for groups.
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