Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

At our recent grand opening day for Dam Mire Wood in April, we asked all the school children and adults on site to write a word on a leaf. That would could be how the land made them feel, how they felt at that time, or what they liked about the land. We hung the leaves up on the trees for the day and then afterwards collected them up to analyse.

We have produced three wordclouds based on the words people used to describe the land or how they felt about it: one by the children, one the adults, and one combined. The more often a word was used, the bigger it is shown. There is no doubt that the words were influenced by the sunny day we had, and we are under no illusions that they would be very different if it had been pouring with rain and cold! It is really interesting to compare the words the adults and children wrote and when combined they give us a wonderful set of words to aim to achieve for the land : good, tranquil, fun, beauty, nice to name but a few. That sounds like a win:win for us all!

We also enjoyed local Donald Angus entertaining us with some Cumbrian Dialect. Donald eloquently explained how much local words mean to him and Cumbria. They are a reflection of locality and identity and something to be celebrated and used, rather than be made to feel ashamed of as they do not sound as Donald put it like ‘plum English’, someone speaking with a plum in their mouth! Many of us will know the words Yan, Tan, Tetherer, etc for one, two, three, but how many of us know bumfit : fifteen? Some are easy to work out such as La’al for little, or watter for water, but what about yat (gate), attercop (spider), kets (sweets) or mowdiwarp (mole). The old words often seem to have so much more colour and vivality than more standardised words and make us smile – children never cease to love using bumfit for example, no guesses as to why…

Some years ago we were lucky enough to have Harriet Fraser as our resident Poet in the Meadow at High Borrowdale. Whilst down there, doing an event with us, we asked people to come up with new words to describe the flowers in the meadow. It was amazing how imaginative but also how true lots of the words people came up with were. Fried egg surprise, golden chinshine, fair blush, variegated moon vetch, green goose daisy, tip tap grass and foxtread to give just a few examples. 

Mebbe (maybe) as the wood at Threlkeld grows up, yan (one) day, we can create some new descriptive words with the school children to name the trees and plants on site and keep our local dialect going as something to celebrate, use and be proud of, as big if not a bigger part of our identity than the clothes we wear or possessions we choose to amass.