The Birds! Martin Mere, Lanercost and a Murmuration

Time for another short (3 week-ish) jaunt in the UK. Our first stop was Southport where we met up with Yvonne and Adriana the Adria Twin for two nights.

Yvonne had travelled up to Southport the day before us and we arrived on Saturday to discover that Adriana had been misbehaving; she’d dumped all of her fresh water overnight (not from the automatic boiler “water dump” that Adrias do below about 4 degrees C. Yvonne apparently “fixed” that long ago using nothing more complicated than a clothes peg).

Mark and Yvonne investigate:

Yvonne had taken the bung out of the bottom of her fresh tank and reckoned it didn’t feel right. Maybe it had gone brittle with age? She fixed the problem using a layer of cling film round the bung (a trick we’ve mentally filed away for future use) and made a dipstick using a wooden spoon and some tape to retest the water level the next morning.

All very impressive…. Then it was time to retreat to SOK for our tea. We did plan to take a photo earlier of the trout Yvonne and I had (not because we’re about to start posting photos of all our meals online but because we need to “angle” for some more trout!) but forgot… so here’s a photo of the last remaining bit of trout before Yvonne scoffed it (Mark claims he doesn’t like fish… unless of course it comes as fish fingers or in batter with chips, so he’d made himself a burger…. peasant!).

The fish had been donated to the cause (frozen) earlier in the week by Top Angler Derek, one of Mark’s pals who’d come down from Cheshire to visit (Mark reckoned that if we called him Top Angler we’d stand a better chance of getting some more fish 😎😎😎).

Then on Sunday we went off to the wetlands centre at Martin Mere for the day. Yvonne travelled in the front as she knew the way. It was quite comfy in the back watching the world go by through the side window….. though a bit strange, like sitting in the back seat of your own car….

It was a freeeezing day, not helped by a bitterly cold wind.

We saw lots of swans, geese and ducks, especially at feeding time!

On Monday, Yvonne continued on to Windermere, whilst we headed further North towards Carlisle. Our first stop on arrival was Lanercost Priory.

Lanercost was an Augustinian priory founded around 1169 (which came a cropper, like the rest of these establishments, during Henry VIII’s Reformation) . Augustinian Abbeys were quite popular in the 12th century and much cheaper to found than Benedictine abbeys; the de Vaux family who founded Lanercost, although wealthy, were not among the super-rich.

Lanercost’s main claim to fame is that Edward I (the “Hammer of the Scots”, also the king who had the castles in North Wales – Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon etc – built in the late 1200s) stayed there for several months in the winter of 1306-1307, shortly before his death.

We’d arranged to stay on a pub car park overnight (Blenkinsopp Castle Inn near Brampton). We arrived OK and all was going well until shortly before dark when thousands and thousands of starlings suddenly appeared out of nowhere. We had a fantastic view of a murmuration of starlings right above our heads.

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and as the display went on, the little “splat” noises on SOK’s roof, skylights and windscreen got ever more frequent.

By the time the birds finally gave up for the night, SOK was well and truly plastered in bird shit…. So much for our shiny new van! Thankfully it’s rained overnight and washed quite a lot of it away…..

From here our plan is to follow Hadrian’s Wall across to Northumberland and the East Coast…..

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