Rediscovering Laurel and Hardy

We had been warned it was going to be a rainy day however looking out the bay windows in the kitchen of the B&B it looked like it was going to be another beautiful day despite what the weather experts were predicting. The bird feeder was filled with chaffinches, gold finches, blue tits, sparrows and the sun was shining, they’d definitely got it wrong.

Looking forward to another nice day out on the road ,then as we were warming the bike up the clouds rolled in so we had decided to check out the Laurel and Hardy Museum, in Ulverston.

As we were motoring through Whitbeck light rain started falling. It wasn’t heavy enough to worry about as we were only going 13 miles, but it slowly got heavier. By the time we rumbled into Ulverston our wet weather gear had flooded and it was really “wet” weather gear.

The museum had been moved form the address Chrissie our satnav took us to but we found it easily enough following the signs scattered throughout the town. Passing the brass statues of Stan and Olly on the way we were soon at the new venue. These days it’s in the 1930’s vintage Roxy Theatre and we found it gave the museum a sense of authenticity.

As the weather was pretty crappy we basically had the place to ourselves and we wandered around checking out the memorabilia on the walls. It was nice to discover without someone looking over your shoulder and people giving you daggers for lingering too long in one display. The museum started out from one fan, Bill Cubin who collected bits a pieces of Laurel and Hardy memorabilia. Of course it soon got bigger and bigger until finally a museum was set up including furniture and furnishings from Stan Laurels (Arthur Stanley Jefferson) home in nearby Argyll Street.

It’s quite a simple affair with an old style cafe and we warmed up with coffee and cake while watching the black and white films on the screen. There was a mixture of some of their older silent films and some of their “talkies” which just played back to back. We sat through about six or more films laughing like drains at the duos slapstick humour, it sure took us back to a simpler time. Their film “Wrong Again” really tickled our fancy with the pair thinking they were going to get a reward for returning ‘Blue Boy’ a horse however what was missing was a painting called ‘Blue Boy’. Seeing them get the horse up on top of the grand piano was hilarious.

The museum may not be for everyone, especially those who expect interactive displays but we really enjoyed the old world charm and it reminded us of how clever and funny these two truly were. You can check out the link here

By the time we’d finished in the museum the sun had come out so we took a run up through Coniston, past Ambleside and up the A591 to Keswick. It was interesting seeing all the fields bordered by stone fences including some of the steepest hills. That must’ve been really hard work building them. When we arrived in Keswick we headed for the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Whoa, it was like Luna Park, cars, campers, tour vans, crowds of people climbing all over the stones and even an ice-cream van selling cones on the roadside.

Castlerigg Stone Circle dates back to the Neolithic period to about 3,300 BC and is one of the important ones in the Cumbrian area. The Stone Circle is situated on top of a hill surrounded by taller hills with the high peaks of Grasmoor, Blencathra, Helvellyn, and Skiddaw, all visible so it has a mystic feel about it. It has a natural amphitheatre feel about it. There’s also talk that the stones align with the position of the sun during solstice and different phases but if the builders had any sense they would’ve set up stalls and charged admission fees.

When we went to leave we spotted an old bloke trying to squeeze his caravan down the one lane road. Despite the road having a no bus sign an old bloke decided that it’d be ok to take his caravan down the narrow road because after all it wasn’t a bus. He didn’t count on the fact that there’d be oncoming traffic and being a major attraction so close to town everyman and his dog would be parked on the side of the road. We grabbed an icecream to eat while we watched him try to sort his small problem out. It was fun watching him and his poor wife) unhitch the van, push it up a side road before turning his car around and reattaching it. It was a good effort but he still managed to back into a tree, run into the stone fence and scratch his new caravan as he was trying to get going again. What a peanut.

Back on the bike we headed back to Ambleside where I was keen to take a ride down the B road over Wry Nose and Hard Knot Pass, Britain’s steepest road (Michele was not so keen). The road wound down through the valley through Great Langdale, a nice little tourist village with lots of hiking camps before it opened up into pasture following the river before some first, second gear switchback hills over Wry Nose.

Of course as soon as we were half way up we struck traffic coming down which we were lucky to dodge. Some people in cars have got no idea and think they own the road. Eventually we reached the summit and it was pretty easy after that just one lane with passing and a few blind corners but not too bad. However we had to keep aware of the loose gravel in the middle of the road, especially with the big drop offs.

We’d heard a tale of a tourist trying to overtake a slow moving car toppling over the edge. When we reached the cross roads at Duddon River we had a choice right to Hard Knot Pass and left Duddon Valley. As it was getting late we decided to leave Hard Knot for another day, sunset is the worst time to be coming up hills and with the current traffic it was just too dangerous.

Down through the Duddon Valley we were able to pick up some speed, however the roads were really good although only one lane it had good vision. As we came into Newfield we spotted an Australian flag on a gate so we had to stop and take a photo. It was odd in the middle of nowhere to see a symbol of home. Newfield had a nice little church and a pub so it would be nice to come back to the area.

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We saw a sign to Bootle then another which took us through Duddondale and Ulpha and up through woods and over Bobbin Mill Hill. The road emerged on a fairly busy road with no signs so we just headed up the hill before turning onto a track through sheep fields which brought us out at Broadfield and back onto to A593 yippee back in civilisation. The run home was easy from here and we arrived a little late for dinner, however we were greeted warmly by the crowd sitting around the table and enjoyed them for another delicious meal.

Tomorrow we might try to tackle Hard Knot Pass if everything’s going well and maybe Kirkwall Stone Circle which is not far away.

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