August has been a really varied month at the hostel, with National Citizen Service groups for 5-day blocks, families and individuals in between, and a lovely mix of new and returning guests.
Some of the constants have been the acrobatic red squirrels, the fantastic help from our Workaway volunteers, and the ever-absorbing cryptic crossword clues, some of which we have shared with you here.
Our staff coffee table is often a place of deep concentration, with a well-annotated scrap of newspaper at its centre. This is the sacred cryptic crossword page, saved from the newspapers that otherwise stuff shoes in the drying room.
We have recently solved 3 clues (from separate crosswords) that feature familiar Lake District place names, and we thought you might like to have a go at them too. Email us with your answers for a chance to win a prize!
1. In some places, one went away from Lakes attraction immersed. (10).
2. What does Mrs Cable do on top of Skiddaw? (8).
3. Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike via Snowdon? That's a tough one. (4, 5).
Good luck! We will provide the answers in the next newsletter.
All six of the Theatre by the Lake summer season productions are now in full swing and between us we have seen them all, some more than once!
The plays are all very different, but they are all proving popular, with a very high standard of acting and overall production.
One of the plays that is really lingering in my mind is The Lady of the Lake, a new piece of writing with powerful physicality and really effective staging.
The action is rooted in Cumbria, in the time of King Arthur, with several references to Blencathra, the Bowder Stone, Castlerigg Stone Circle, Carlisle, and Bassenthwaite. It also happened that an electric storm in the play was matched by one outside!
The play focuses on intense personal relationships, concentrating on just a few characters, with the action peaking around signifcant festivals (such as Lughnasa) and equinoxes. There are unsettling scenes of murder, rape, incest, and miscarriage, but the narrator figure - a bard who weaves together the stories and becomes partly involved in the action itself - provides a few moments of relief.
I would actually like the script or a recording of the poetic dialogue so that I can take more time to appreciate the writing, but the memory of the rhythmic language certainly whirls in my mind as I swim in the lake.
We have now said goodbye to all the energetic staff who guided groups of National Citizen Service (NCS) participants through their weeks of challenging activities. Everyone seems to agree that the weeks were a great success!
Each week we accommodated a different group of young people aged 15-17. The groups came from Oldham, Stockport, West Midlands, Blackpool, and Birmingham, and for many of them it was their first visit to the Lake District. It was also the first week of their NCS programme (the team building week) and so everyone was finding their feet. The second week of the programme is a self-catering residential in university accommodation, after which they start voluntary service projects in their home communities. The groups were divided into teams of about 12, and these teams stay the same throughout the programme, with one NCS Senior Mentor per team, supervising the whole programme.
We were really happy to find out that Florence King, who volunteered with us during her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award in 2012, was one of the NCS Senior Mentors. Here is an interview with her:
1. What is your role with NCS?
My name is Florence and I have had the pleasure of working with NCS for two years now, both years as a Senior Mentor. My role focuses on pastoral care, making sure my team of 12 young people, of different abilities and backgrounds, are all okay. So it can be a very interesting few weeks, but it is wonderful to see how quickly they learn from each other and how, in just a few days, they feel like they've known each other for a very long time!
2. What were some of the activities you delivered during the week at the hostel?
The first week of NCS can sometimes be the hardest. It is the first time some of the young people have been away from home and it is a very active week, so they are very tired by the end of it! While we were staying at Derwentwater we were lucky enough to go ghyll scrambling, hiking, camping and canoeing, as well as doing lots of other team building activities at the hostel. As their Senior Mentor, I also delivered evening sessions each night, where my team and I reflected on our week so far.
3. What was the feedback like from the group after the first week? (on the activity side, rather than about the hostel)
After the first week, my team could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed it! They were all very grateful to have had the opportunity to do those activities and visit the Lake District. They had nothing but positive feedback after the first week: I think that first week is one of the most important times of NCS. It is when the young people really begin to learn a lot about each other as well as themselves. Some of them really push themselves and are surprised at how much they can achieve if they really try.
4. How has the group developed since the hostel week? Do you have any examples of their project plans?
Each team developed a lot after the first residential week: the majority of them became very good friends and had already made plans to meet once NCS had finished! My team in particular were very quiet at the start of the week and I think the first week really helped them to come out of their shell and feel more at ease with each other. My team have been planning their campaign, which they will present in September, and they are focusing on how everyone is different but how each person is special in their own way.
5. Can you tell us some of the personal highlights and challenges that you have experienced with NCS so far?
Some of my personal highlights of the NCS this year were seeing how much my team developed. At the beginning I was a little concerned that they might take a while to bond and to throw themselves into some of the activities, but I had no reason to be worried: they put 100% in and really impressed us all. The team is now working closely with The Together Trust, which is a charity that caters for adults with learning disabilities, and it is lovely to see how passionate they are about helping and making a difference.
We wish Florence and all the NCS teams the very best for the remainder of their programme.