Friday, March 10, 2006


Story contd.

Why were we being berated for skimming stones on Lake Coniston? Sarah was the first to spot him. We all recognised him. Those beaky, aquiline features were unmistakably those of Sir Malcolm Campbell. He had broken the land speed record on nine occasions between 1924 and 1935 in Bluebird, which raced on land and a Bluebird that raced on water. In 1935 he reached 301 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats, in the United States. And now here he was waiting to do a run on our lake and we were causing ripples. Red faces all around.

In the end, although the lake looked like a mill pond to us, it was decided that the conditions were not ideal and the people drifted away. We felt privileged to have seen him. A year later he died. Seven years later I met his son Donald, whilst on a modelling shoot. He had continued his father’s pursuit of speed records and did 400mph in Bluebird, which now reclines in Lord Montagu’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, UK. Donald was charming and seemed interested to hear of our experience at Lake Coniston. Tragically he was killed in 1967, aged 46 in a re-engined Bluebird K7. It flipped and disintegrated at a speed in excess of 300mph on Lake Coniston.

It was time to say goodbye. The boys drove us back to the B&B, we bade them a fond farewell and J and I exchanged addresses. Mrs Lawson was waiting for us in the hall and we could see at once she was not happy. It was not so much that she minded our missing supper but to have a bobby come knocking on her door, in full view of the whole of Ambleside was not something she relished. Oh dear! We had brought her some chocolates and when she saw we were really sorry to have upset her, she melted and when we told her of our adventure she admitted she would have done the same – without the help of the policeman.

The next day we went to Keswick and found the field where we had camped with Mum and Dad. The field had been full of gypsies and I remember being fascinated by a little toddler with black hair and a red dress and they all seemed so friendly. When we got back from climbing one day we found there was a large hole cut in the wind screen of the sidecar. Dad took one look and said.

‘Right! Pack up, we’re leaving.’

And off we went to our more hospitable Lake Windermere. Maybe it wasn’t the gypsies but they must have seen something. We never returned.

Sarah and I agreed our holiday had been a success and decided to go to Scotland the following year. We spent a night at home regaling Mum and Dad with our doings and then it was back to the Convalescent Home. Returning on duty after a holiday is always a bit daunting but going back there was less so. It was such a welcoming place: the staff were like family, the children affectionate and the sea, sand hills and sky were always alluring. In a few weeks I would be leaving for good and starting training with a vengeance. Thank goodness Annie would be there. It wouldn’t be nearly so frightening with two of us.

Although the Convalescent Home was meant to prepare young girls before they started training proper at the main Hospital, not all of them made it. All we heard and saw of the Hospital filled us with awe and trepidation. The training was very intense and the discipline of the strictest. But this was part of my five year plan and I knew that the children would help to make life bearable. I was in for a shock!


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Ooh another cliffhanger... your blog is looking great, Pat!

Anonymous said...

This is a great story. I've sailed on Consiton many many times.

The blog format is looking good too. Lovely piccy!

Anonymous said...

This is a great story. I've sailed on Consiton many many times.

The blog format is looking good too. Lovely piccy!

PI said...

Zinnia: Glad you like it. I would never have changed it if I hadn't made a dirty big bloomer.

GW: Oh I do envy you. I would have loved to sail on one of the Lakes. I wonder if it's too late?

kenju said...

I like the new template - so clean looking. Great story, as usual, and your old photos are so charming.

Theblonde said...

Just popping by for a read. You are having fun with your template this week.

PI said...

theblonde: Don't know why the blue has disappeared at the top. I'm getting nervous!