A colder night last night and our parking up on the driveway rather than campsite field would have meant the exhaust from our diesel heater would have been uncomfortably close to another camper, so being considerate campers we went to bed in quite a cold van and didn't sleep as well as we have done.
No need anyway. At 7 this morning nature provided an early morning alarm call in the form of a tympanic downpour with all the energy and gusto of an Evelyn Glenny solo! Still hopefully the pressure-washing rain removed the last remnants from the van of what appeared to a coordinated mass bowel evacuation of a colony of guillemots.
Since the rain, sodden ground and Arctic winds put paid to any enjoyable expiration of the remains of Netherhall estate we set of to explore the delights of Maryport. I'm not sure whether it was the cold, wet weather or whether it was natural demeanour but "taciturn" might be an appropriate description of the inhibitants. Too cold to explore the dock side so we pressed on inland to Cockermouth - birthplace of William Wordsworth. Before our planned visit to the poet's home we took in the high street and stumbled upon Banks ironmongers. What a delight! A traditional ironmongers and tool merchants; behind the counter a myriad of Victorian small wooden boxes, each holding quantities of ironmongery, nails and screws and the like, still available to be purchased is loose quantities. Even better the rear of the shop hosted a museum with tools and artifacts of yesteryear. The highlight has to have been an original Alco car. Built in the late 30s as a way to introduce children to driving and so improve road standards from an early age they were a car shell attached to an standard Alco petrol engined lawn mower with its cutting blades removed. Aimed at the 7-8 year old the car has a top speed of about 10mph. Sadly the war intervened and only about 200 or so were made. This one is in excellent condition, despite having been submerged during the 2009 floods. Also interesting were the boxes of metal sole and heel pieces, miniature horseshoes designed to be fitted on workers wooden clogs. Hence the "sparking clogs" in the Brian and Mitchell song "Matchstick Men".
The shop had everything, we decided against the mink trap or even the fork handles but did leave with a couple of souvenirs. Apparently one of our purchases had also recently been purchased by Lady Egremont herself, proving what impeccable taste wot we 'as.
After an excellent lunch in a local tearoom it was time to move on to Keswick. In future we must check to see when and where the National Society For Obnoxious Children are hosting their coach trips and avoid meeting up with them. To be fair, the Arctic wind was howling, it was either hailing huge gobbets of ice or slashing down and parents had decided, as a school holiday treat, they would bring their kids to the Lakes. Dragging them around a town that is just an endless sea of outdoor clothing shops could well have been the last straw.
The New Balance outlet shop was full of such disaffected darlings, the ship assistants not particularly helpful so Liz left without the pair of new walking shoes she was hoping for.
Onward to our overnight stop. Now one of the factors we had not considered when planning this trip was the effect of several days rain. All the cheap campsite are just fields with maybe a water tap and a drain for dirty water. But all this rain means the van is likely to get bogged down on such a site, it was a close run thing escaping from the farm at Maghull. So the campsite has to have hard standing: gravel, tarmac or concrete. That doubles the price instantly. We found one just outside Carlisle, £14 for the night is more than we'd hoped for but it is solid ground.
And I've just discovered the local pub, a mile away hosts it's own brewery. Now, can we be arsed to walk that far in this bitter wind? Where's my hat?!