Yesterday, Rory and I had the most British day out that there has ever been.
If you’ve ever shared a bed with me, you’ll know that I like to spend my mornings catching up with the antics of the four-legged celebridogs I follow so keenly on Instagram. I’m yet to meet any of my favourites in person (shout out to MoMo and Tuna) so imagine my delight when I heard that Max and Paddy, the springer spaniel ambassadors for the Lake District would be available for strokes and jetty jumping in Keswick. We were to meet at the Derwent Pencil Museum around 11am.
We set off for Keswick just after 9am, stopping for a quick run in the woods and a brisk brush down of excess hair. Rory too. Checking online to confirm timings and directions, i realised that the main event of the day (for most people) was in fact the grand reopening of the pencil museum, and that the ribbon would be cut by none other than JOHN CRAVEN OBE. John Craven! I confess, I had to Google him; I was raised in the era of Lizo Mzimba’s Newsround and Countryfile was never on my regular watch list.
I made a beeline for Max, Paddy and their human, Kerry as soon as I arrived. Rory was delighted, he hasn’t made any springer friends in a while. I was just pleased to be in the sunshine among “my people”. We were joined by 3 more springers, a staffy-shepherd cross and a cocker who looked more like a spotty great dane than the bouncy, portable cockers we know and love. Shout out to Monty!
Suddenly, it happened. “Is that him?” I muttered as the Beeb and the local press ever so politely jostled for position as a taxi rolled up. Inadvertently, we set up a spaniel guard of honour.
Honestly. A spaniel guard of honour for John Craven at a pencil museum in the Lake District. Tell me you’ve never seen anything more British in your life?
The speeches began. The Derwent Pencil Museum was devastated by the floods of 2015 and has been closed ever since. Sadly, some of the artefacts such as WW2 pencils with maps hidden inside were destroyed, but many were saved and the team has worked really hard to rebuild and restore the building and many of the items.
The general manager said how pleased he was that the event was going so smoothly, at which point a tennis ball was conquered with hostility and a volley of barks ensued.
After John has turned the museum, done his piece to camera in front of the World’s Largest Pencil and made a fuss of Max and Paddy, we set off on our walk. I’ll say at this point that John Craven didn’t come jetty jumping with us but John, if you’re reading, you’re welcome next time!
Letting the dogs loose in the field was wonderful chaos. Springers, springers everywhere! Rory made a beeline for the lake and I feared we would be eating duck for dinner, but thankfully he has as much grace as a trifle being dropped from a great height. Naturally he refused to do anything he was told if it involved coming out of the water. Kerry managed to get a Max and Paddy style shot of him which I am delighted with!
We walked and swam for another hour, moving around the north east shore of Derwent Water. Pausing at the jetty so Max and Paddy could display their excellent belly-flop-at-speed jetty jumping skills, the dogs had another swim and tourists disembarking boats stopped to marvel at Rory’s determination to befriend a Canadian goose in the middle of the lake.
Returning to the pencil museum very damp and stinky, we were greeted with sandwiches and lemonade before attempting a group photo of all the dogs. It was such a great day and wonderful to meet lots of dogs and their lovely humans. Thank you so much to Kerry, Max and Paddy for inviting us!
Rory went to bed a very happy dog and has been snoring loudly ever since!