Date Posted: 6th March 2018

Thistles: screenprint
White house and sun

Reasons for optimism; the snow has gone, the Percy Kelly exhibition of prints is up and running at Theatre by the Lake in Keswick despite all the difficulties the weather threw at us and excitement is mounting at the approach of the annual Words by the Water Festival.
This week Theatre by the Lake is coming alive with activity. People and books are beginning to arrive and Friday will see the beginning of 10 days of pure enjoyment as writers and thinkers stimulate our minds and inspire us to read and think more broadly. We will meet old friends and make new ones. This year’s programme seems to offer even more tempting talks to bring us out of hibernation. With two full programmes running in parallel in both the Main House and the Studio it is hard to decide which to choose.  The big names are in the Main House and Blake Morrison’s new novel - The Executor - will be top of my list as will the Guardian’s witty political commentator John Crace and Luke Harding’s incisive investigative journalism. However I have found myself favouring more in the studio this time;  Clouds, nature and culture, St Petersburg my favourite city, Japanese Gardens and the author of the most fascinating book about Head Gardeners talking with Martin Ogle who is restoring the gardens of Lowther Castle almost single handedly  (he has a small team of volunteers for this daunting task).  I have learnt from past experience that things I have stumbled upon almost accidentally have been absolute gems. A season ticket or full day ticket opens up the things you might ignore otherwise. Pick up a brochure or look at www.wordsbythewater.org.uk. Book tickets at the box office 01768774411

There is also the pleasure of a reunion with old friends either to the Festival or to see the Kelly exhibition of prints – or both.  In the wake of the highly popular retrospective at Tullie House I am told both staff and visitors are missing Percy a lot. With 12,500 visitors it was one of their most successful shows.  Quite a lot of people have expressed interest in things from that exhibition which can now be for sale but are not on display at the theatre. Do come and ask me about them as I will be around most of the time (or e mail for a list). Sales will help boost the funds of a cash strapped theatre. 

See you there I hope.

Catering arrangements at the theatre have improved greatly. The new café seems to have got its act together with a new innovative menu of unusual salads and interesting soups and hot dishes.  I am proud to say I have so far resisted the table of fabulous cakes in the centre of the cafe but It is hard as they look so attractive. I know I will succumb at some stage. The bar area has been redone also and is more ergonomically arranged to cope with the influx next week. (the sandwiches look miles better than last year!)