Book Review by Steve Matthews of Bookends
Lake District and Cumbria: A Three Dimensional Pocket Guide by Nina Cosford. Walker Books. £5
The Lake District is packaged in all shapes and sizes.
Wainwright's Guides were made to fit in the anorak pocket. OS maps are made to fold and unfold, sometimes in a gale-force wind on the top of a fell. The old guide books were sometimes squat red blocks of books with fold-out maps and sometimes they could be massive tomes, like James Clarke's Survey of the Lakes. It filled a coffee table, the maps were as large as hearth-rugs and the whole thing cost an incredible six guineas - but that was back in 1787.
But a three-dimensional pocket guide is something new. It comes in a square blue slipcase as light blue as an April sky over Skiddaw (we hope) and when its pulled out, it can be opened like a concertina. Fifteen folds in all which stretch out to a full metre and a half of Lakeland views. Turn it over, and there's another fifteen folds, with pop-up hedges, lawns and people.
It's fun. Bright with primary paints, it cries out "Visit me" and offers a welcome in every fold.
At Hill Top the garden is ablaze with flowers and a red rabbit is fossicking in the flower beds. Beatrix Potter bought the old seventeenth century farmhouse over a century ago and peopled its garden with Samuel Whiskers, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-duck and all their friends. Nina Cosford's drawing lacks the delicacy and observation of Beatrix Potter's, but it is fresh and lively and seems to promise a fun-day for the pop-up man and his daughter walking through the bushes towards the house.
The numerous gables and blocks of Brantwood leap out from their forest background and the page. At Blackwell visitors take their ease on the verandah or walk in the gardens, while one long-haired artist sits on the grass and sketches the walls, the chimneys and windows.
At Abbott Hall, garbed in white, they stoop to play a game of bowls.
A hiking couple look over the hedge at the roses which climb the sides of Dove Cottage. After William Wordsworth brought his new bride, Mary, to the house, his sister, Dorothy, commented: "We are crammed in our little nest, edge full."
There's daffodils, "Tossing their heads in sprightly dance" - clumps of them pop-up in front of a picture of Ullswater.
In Carlisle, shoppers and a svelte greyhound, stand in front of the Guildhall. The old timber-framed structure was built in the fourteenth century by Richard de Redness as a meeting place for the city's eight guilds.
At Tullie House, people stroll in the gardens or sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine. Inside are paintings by Rossetti and Burne-Jones.
In Whitehaven, boats bob up and down in front of the Beacon Museum and in Barrow, excited children are hurried into the Dock Museum where they can find out about ships and submarines and the exciting things which were made in Barrow.
This little pocket-guide cum souvenir adds a fresh dimension to Lakeland books. Its wording is brief and its pictures uniformly bright and festive, but it does celebrate Cumbria as a whole, and shows that Carlisle and Kendal, Whitehaven and Barrow have as much to offer the visitor as Coniston or Grasmere.
The guide has been produced in association with the Cumbria Museum's Trust and demonstrates a readiness to find new and original ways to attract visitors to the whole range of attractions Cumbria has to offer.
Cumbria is certainly a three-dimensional county.