Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Lake District Setting for the novel


Only The English Lake District could satisfactorily be the setting for this tale of intrigue, adventure, romance and lust. Charles Rogers needs a large lakeside residence to fulfil his ambition for the Management Training Centre he envisages. Robert Watson is in his element, extending business ventures, while seducing the wife of his hated rival. June Rogers gives vent to her creativity, while the whole family grow up and mature in a magical healthy environment, rich in opportunities.

The cover of Checkmate, the third of the 'Designed For Love' trilogy.

Edencroft, home of Charles and June Rogers and their family, is located on the shores of Lake Windermere. Edencroft’s Lodge is occupied by Rosie and Richard Andrews (Rosie is June’s daughter by her first marriage). A substantial boathouse is at the Lake’s edge and disused stables are close to the house. These premises and Charles’s experience of Naval Command, create a remarkable project involving the whole family.

Today, Lake Windermere has a number of marinas and many boats, from small dinghies to sea-going cruising yachts. The lake was quieter when the Rogers family moved there in 1970. The M6 opened up the Lake District to rich and poor alike, and to businessmen like Robert Watson, opportunities to make money were only too apparent. The following photographs suggest Edencroft’s immediate environment:

With immediate access to the lake, Edencroft is ideal for all water activities.

Under the overhanging trees, June sought seclusion. Rob found it ideal for seduction.

The Edencroft property is a large house with grounds running down to the lakeside.

With only one gardener, Edencroft has modest flower borders but June insists on year-round planting.

The following photographs suggest their family activity — fells and forests to walk, mountains to climb, lakes to sail, churches to attend, the close-by sea to sail:

Whinlatter and Dodd’s Wood provide excellent walking and rugged cycling for the Rogers family.

The Langdales to climb.

Valleys to explore.

Mountains above Keswick.

The whole family enjoy sailing.

The Rogers family are churchgoers.

The sea is not far away for tougher sailing opportunities.

The Marina at Whitehaven — it was a fishing port then.

Roanhead comes into the story early — a great place for children and clandestine meetings!

Urswick Common, and close-by Bardsea — village and beach — come into the story.

June not only paints in watercolours, she uses the colours and textures within her environment to produce her Lakeland Stag Rock Collection — designs for both garments and fabrics:

The starkness of Wastwater screes is an inspiration for June's Gothic collection.

Late afternoon golden rays on Cogna Moss inspire fabulous silks for the boutique range.

Luscious mosses inspire colours for the Stag Rock Collection.

Golden hues of summer grasses - print designs for cotton dresses.

More textures and colours for outerwear.

Golden Gorse, greens and blues for smooth and chunky woollens.

Charles and Richard (Rosie’s husband) and later, Peter and David, work on Submarine Design and Development. The Shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness provides an outlet for their talents:

Shipyard from Walney Island.

Some of the Shipyard offices.

‘O’ Class submarines were built during the era of Checkmate.

This 150-ton crane in use at the time of Checkmate.

Robert Watson is a ruthless entrepreneur who is heavily involved in the clothing industry. But his interests also extend to property development. When his ex-fiancée married Charles and moved to Cumbria, he realised the opportunities that would be forthcoming as the M6 opened up the Lake District to the rest of England. Not only did he establish his central offices there in a converted mill, extend and refurbish an old mansion for his home — Stag Rock —  but he also bought up crumbling cottages and any old building to convert or refurbish as holiday homes or, with an eye to the future, business premises to rent:

Whitewater Hotel converted from the Dolly-Blue works — I see this as ‘Watson’s Empire’ office building.

An old bobbin mill. Watson would love to get his hands on this.

To Watson, old mill buildings are potential gold.

The red brick building was once the old Dolly-Blue Mill standing by the Levens white water. The buildings close by are mostly new forming a holiday village — could easily have been Watson’s!

Stag Rock is built on a hillside with his offices down in the valley.

Coniston Water above which is Watson’s Nursing Home. The water is as deep as Watson’s dark personality.

Winter view of Coniston from Watson’s Exclusive Nursing home.

His exclusive Nursing Home is set in a garden rich in colourful shrubbery. June’s sister, suffering from dementia, lives there.

The Wonder of Lakeland

Never did I think that one day I would live here, and certainly I had no notion of writing a book with a Cumbrian setting. In fact, although I enjoyed writing poems and compositions at school it never occurred to me that I could write a book or even a large dissertation. We had no books at home to inspire but I was able to borrow a book each week from the library. I was the youngest of a large family and the only one not to leave school to start work at fourteen. My brother was told that 'boys like him' (ie children from a working class background) did not go to University and, in general, at school we were not encouraged to seek that which was considered beyond us.

Even though I passed at thirteen years of age to go to art school for a two-year course of general and art subjects, it was a big step to actually believing a career was possible. In those days girls were expected to marry and be housewives. I determined to be a dress designer. I never considered teaching as a career — that was for posh people! (I passed the eleven-plus but was denied a place at the Grammar School) Yet I became a successful dress designer and, much later, a teacher. In my mother's day, that would have been impossible for a girl 'like her'.

My brother Bill went to Nottingham University in the days when 'boys like him' were not considered worthy. He started an apprenticeship at fourteen, and got to University by sheer determination and guts, plus a brilliant brain. When he died three years ago in California, he had several degrees and a PhD, plus 54 patents to his name. My brother has always been an inspiration and a positive encourager. He loved the Lake District too and thought of it as a miniature of all that is best in his adopted land. Within a day there is so much that can be seen and enjoyed. A paradise.

Yes, I made it into designing and later into teaching. I did lots of other work too needing high qualifications but that was an entirely voluntary 'career' in a realm usually the province of males. Being a pioneer is not easy. But this vast wealth of experience and insights has provided considerable material for my story writing.

We have been living in Cumbria for over forty years. I never take it for granted. The beauty around us is overwhelming.

I have also written a number of books — something else I had never thought possible. As a child I once was given 0 out of 50 for composition — to be fair, we had just arrived at the secondary school where we were given a piece of paper and told to write about bees, in a manner indicating that we were being kept busy NOT being tested. But I did well at all subjects, including English, at the art school.

Now here I am composing a blog about the land of my dreams (Lake District) in pictures, and about the book — CHECKMATE — that has its powerful setting right here . There could be no other background for my book — the Lake District inspired the writing of it. The male characters need all that is here to establish their business designs. The main female character (June) is a dress designer like I used to be. She started out as I did, but with the aid and inspiration of a ruthless entrepreneur, climbed a ladder of complete success. That success culminates, and ends, in this place. The Lake District too, was once a land of her dreams.

In the photographs above, you see the places that make Cumbria, the Lake District in particular, what it is — a place of challenge, of beauty and of opportunity. A place for adventurers, poets, writers and artists. But more than that. To answer that question, you will have to read the book
Checkmate is now published by Turquoise Morning Press (with different cover) It can also be bought at Amazon

See all of Gladys Hobson's novels and other books
Gladys Hobson's Wrinkly Writers
Gladys Hobson's Writing For Joy
And — Diary of a Country Lady
My space at MY Space

If you have enjoyed viewing these photos, TRY VISITING THE OFFICIAL LAKE DISTRICT TOURIST SITEThe photographs are absolutely stunning.

And don't forget to visit Fool's Paradise — Infinity on a Shoestring. This magical, intelligent but kinky, and politically incorrect site, is run by the kind gentleman who helped put this blog together in such a neat viewable manner — the one and only fool Payton L Inkletter, writer extraordinaire, aspiring author, inveterate thinker, kitchen sink and backyard philisopher with a cockywhacker sense of humour. Visit there for jewels of wisdom, puzzling phrases, humour that takes another fool to fully recognise the depth and intellect that produces it.