Loving Barrow... and Furness Abbey

I was thrilled to be asked to write a column for HuddleHub and was excited to be able to share stories and thoughts with a different audience.

As anyone who knows me will tell you I am a little fanatical over all things heritage, and particularly our unique town. I love the community in Barrow and the wry sense of humour, but I am the first to admit we are a vexing and contradictory lot as well. So, it is with this in mind I will attempt to share some of the things which delight, fascinate, irritate and inspire me about Barrow and its people.
Please forgive me if I stray into new territory from time to time-I tend to become passionate about all kinds of things.
I’m a local author and historian, with a teaching background. Life has been varied so far, often similar to a roller-coaster ride, which shows no signs of slowing down. However, I like “varied” –you never know what’s around the corner. I was born and raised in Barrow and as a teenager my one dream was to leave as quickly as possible. In the seventies life seemed far more exciting elsewhere and I dreamed of living in London. I spent twelve years there, began a family and was surprised how much I missed Barrow. I returned and have no regrets. I discovered that life can be just as vibrant and exciting away from the metropolis and in many ways even more enriching.
I have one guilty pleasure (as Dorcas Lane in Lark Rise to Candleford would say), Furness Abbey. I’ve written about it in my children’s books (Out of Time series), I am a founder member of Furness Abbey Fellowship and I work there through the summer. Any visitors who stay with us ultimately find themselves on a guided tour. Presents are purchased from its tasteful gift-shop and it is a special place for my grandsons, having visited from babyhood (their mum and dad love the place too). I even dragged myself from my sick bed three days after a gall bladder operation to guide 50 ladies from the WI around the ruins, culminating in a rousing rendition of “Jerusalem”. So, you can see, I do feel rather passionate about our amazing abbey.
I will return to this subject in subsequent writings-be assured, but for now I want to leave you with an interesting offer. We have a Litter Pick planned for Saturday 18 th March to tidy the area around the abbey and amphitheatre. Although Barrovians love the abbey, it is sometimes hard to reconcile that with the litter and mess left around this area. It’s one of the contradictory factors I mentioned before. People flock there and enjoy it, but don’t always look after it as they should. So if you want to help us, we will meet in the car park at Abbey Mill at 11am. Bring your gloves and wellies-it’s not pretty, but it is fun!

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