Date Posted: 12th February 2014

Bridge at Allonby minus the road works.
Glen Cottage

I first met BBC producer Ed Hanson in 2009 when he was covering  the  Cockermouth  floods and, like everyone else in the know, he came up to the gallery for a bowl of soup and a warm up and dry-out in front of the  roaring fire.  Like many innocents, he fell victim to Kelly’s work and vowed to return and make a programme about him. Ed has just returned to fulfill  that promise.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have walked into the gallery to see the garden, use the loo, meet a friend or were just passing and have walked out with a Kelly painting, book, catalogue and  Kelly mania!  Ed is no exception. It is dangerously addictive.

It’s early Friday morning and needle sharp cold on the West Cumbrian coast at Allonby. The film crew are already there unpacking equipment with frozen fingers. I feel like the Michelin man in three pairs of everything topped by a hooded blue puffer coat that soon matches my face. I need every layer even though it makes me look 15 stone. We park in front of The Codfather (a witty chippy to you and me) with a measure of dismay. The road men are out in force in yellow jackets and have placed red plastic barriers in a cordon sanitaire around the red bridge and Glen Cottage – Kelly’s home for 12 years and the subject of many of his paintings of that era.  Yes, it’s a good colour scheme – all the primaries - but not what we want for this. Film crews are intrepid. We carry on regardless.  Every time we get the light right, pneumatic drills start up and lorries and trailers reverse across our paths. Old men come out of hibernation, peering around blinking in the light, loudly speculating about what we are doing. Eventually we decide to take off a mile up the coast to the scene of another Kelly painting – to a place even bleaker and colder than the village.
‘Is there a Costa there?’ asks the glamorous young interviewer plaintively as we return to the cars.
‘Oh yes,’ I lie, ’and a Starbucks and a Macdonalds!’
Well it cheered her up a bit until we got there!

The programme will go out on February 17th at 7.30pm on Inside Out - a magazine programme on BBC1  North East and Cumbria.  For those in South Cumbria it will be 3rd March at 7.30 BBC1.  The good news is that for 7 days after each of these showings it will be available on BBC i-player (UK only).

And no, there is no Costa, Starbucks or Macdonalds in Allonby thank heaven but there is a great little café  just behind the bus stop which makes superb cafetieres of  fresh ground coffee, home made cake and freshly cooked  food.