A group of Cumbrian cultural and heritage attractions, museums and great houses has developed one of tourism’s most touching responses to the coronavirus lockdown, by using the 40th anniversary of Post-It Notes to create a Post-It Note therapy tree.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage – whose members are all closed due to the virus – has used the Post-It Note’s 40thbirthday of April 6th – the day before the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth – to create 34 notes that could all be put into a planner by those wanting ways to recover from the impacts the health situation has had on our society.
All offer a short suggestion of something very pertinent that members can offer whenever life returns to normal. This would be by way of lifting the spirits, healing torn minds, delivering simple joys, offering time for contemplation, bringing smiles back to children’s faces, or providing either an opportunity to pray or a spiritual experience.
The Lake District’s unique landscape makes it an ideal location for healing and uplifting experiences. These were the elements that made Wordsworth’s poetry so acclaimed and appreciated by Victorians who flocked to the Lakes to experience it themselves.
Wordsworth Grasmere, Rydal Mount, Wordsworth House and Garden and Allan Bank were all formerly residences of Wordsworth. The suggestions of how to regain a sense of balance here are ‘Study the Clouds’ – a reference to Wordsworth’s famous poem, ‘Daffodils’ –“Lay back and listen for the elusive Cuckoo’, which Wordsworth would do in the gardens of Rydal Mount’, ‘Be in tune with nature’, and ‘Let Fido take the lead once more.’ Being in-tune with nature at Wordsworth House and Garden is what Wordsworth was as a child. Allan Bank’s Post-It note shows an appreciation that life has changed for dogs, as well as owners.
Strong spiritual experiences can be offered at Furness Abbey, whose simple suggestion is ‘Say a Prayer’. The same is true at Lanercost Priory, where you can ‘Find Peace and Tranquillity’ and at Swarthmoor Hall, the cradle of Quakerism, where a retreat could be taken by those requiring spiritual recovery. Whinlatter Forest suggests allowing the renowned healing power of trees to play a role, whilst Grizedale, home to inspiring woodland sculptures, invites us to find a response to those in person one day, but viewing them online for now.
At Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house, the stunning White Drawing Room can provide a sanctuary of peace, at Mirehouse there will be the opportunity to regain composure on the Poets Walk, at Holker Hall and Gardens the Hindu inspired labyrinth and referencing of Cumbrian stone circles invites thought and interpretation, whilst at Holehird Gardens, the ha-ha, giving the illusion of no boundary between the garden and the landscape is a way to view things differently in the years ahead.
Nature has a strong part to play. At Acorn Bank, a woodland walk will offer a chance to switch off in ‘Silent Space’, free from mobile phones. At Levens Hall and Gardens, the world’s oldest topiary garden offers a calm that can ‘unbox’ the mind and at Brantwood, former home of philosopher John Ruskin, the perfect place for reflection is Ruskin’s Seat.
Simple pleasures are suggested by others. Brougham Castle suggests a rediscovery of the joys of hide and seek and Sizergh will bring smiles back to young faces seeking out dens to hide in. Steam Yacht Gondola and Windermere Jetty offer ways to find peace of mind out on the water, Askham Hall would want to see people uplifted by its Grade II listed gardens and its Purple Alliums, whilst Brockhole would want to reignite the joy of family picnics, once coronavirus restrictions lift and families can get together once again.
Appreciation of life and being uplifted by artistry is another thematic. The Armitt Museum in Ambleside, home to amazing botanical watercolours by Beatrix Potter wants us to appreciate the detail in nature. Hutton-in-the-Forest suggests we are inspired. by its Cupid-themed artisanship and believe that love will bring us strength. The Beatrix Potter Gallery will help us to appreciate the contribution of strong women like the author and Stott Park Bobbin Mill will give us perspective, by highlighting how hard our ancestors worked for us.
Nostalgia can also have healing benefits and there is no better place to skip back to our childhoods than at Hill Top, the former home of Beatrix Potter, where every room reminds us of one of her ‘Tales’.
Musical therapy from rocks will be on offer after restrictions lift at Keswick Museum, whilst Townend will offer recipes for happiness from a centuries-old cookbook. Food will uplift young and old alike through Roman burgers served at Birdoswald Roman Fort. We can also follow the example of D H Lawrence, who made marmalade to beat the blues, enjoying the historic-recipe marmalade of Dalemain, the home of the World Marmalade Festival.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage also wants people to feel that, at some point in the future, it will be fine to smile again, enjoy humour and resume hobbies. Muncaster Castle, with its tales of former jester, Tom Fool, will show that resuming some Tomfoolery will be a tonic, whilst Lakeland Motor Museum, with its massive collection of not just classic cars but motorbikes too, will metaphorically get people back on the bike.
And, for all of us who have been through lockdown, whenever that may end, there will be a poignant way to appreciate how past figures have been through the same, by taking the Lady’s Walk at Carlisle Castle – the one walk per day that Mary Queen of Scots was allowed to take whilst imprisoned there.
Cumbria’s Living Heritage’s spokesperson, Peter Frost-Pennington, says: “The healing and uplifting powers that arts, culture and journeys into the past provide are well-known and documented. Whilst we cannot open our doors to visitors yet – and who knows when we will be able to – we can offer suggestions of what we can offer to people after these unprecedented times. Our Post-It notes do that.
“Each physically and mentally restorative suggestion can be popped into a planner and used by those who know their needs, mental health and perspective post-coronavirus may be very different from what they were previously. By issuing these notes, perhaps we can create something to look forward to and somewhere to turn, if a person needs help, peace, contemplation, solitude or family time. There is no greater poem to uplift the spirits than Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’. By channelling some of that inspiration into a modern-day, to-do format, we hope we can be there for visitors, from all over the world, when they most need us.”
More information about the venues at which cultural recuperation may be sought can be found at www.cumbriaslivingheritage.co.uk