Whenever our volunteer archivist stays over at Brathay he always finds something to comment on that connects us to the past.
There’s a lesson in everything you see and do at Brathay. Only you sometimes have to be alive to notice it.
Let me take you through some experiences on my recent visit: The key to my room did not work. Grr. Go back and ask for another which they promptly give me. This one works. The problem? The lock was the opposite way round to the usual ones and I had not realised this.Yes, life is sometimes like that.
Brathay was busy this week. Group sizes ranged from 60 or so youngsters in Old Brathay to a decent sized group of university students and then The John Lewis Partnership. John Lewis was once one of our biggest clients until they got so big they set up training on their own. But that is the way with many Brathay enterprises, and something that Francis Scott, our Founder, encouraged. As for the youngsters they were all from an International Summer School hosted by Sedbergh School.
And then there was just the one loner. Not me, but someone I spotted in the corner of one big room, deep in thought. Then later she was out on the front lawn, still alone. She could not have had a better environment in which to muse. It reminded me of Brathay’s very early days when it was a place of convalescent break for youngsters escaping from the ravages of war.
That evening must have been a challenge for the catering staff. In the dining room it was white table cloths for the two main groups and a magnificent curry with all the trimmings. No wine. Just water. Maybe it would be wine on the final night. Outside on the lawn there was another setup: a well-ordered barbecue for who knows who? They must have been still deep in some ‘creative project’ or other… But don’t be long. It looks like rain, although my guess is that rain will not put off these hungry horaces.
Ah, now what is that person doing round the back? No, you really don’t need to be that secretive about how you use your mobile phone! Ah, I see. Having a quiet drag. (This was always Smokers’ Corner). Unlike some other places, Brathay never banned smoking. In true Brathay style it was left to individuals to make their own decisions. Always bearing in mind how it might affect others.
Early morning I went my usual walk through the grounds. A good time to see deer. I sat on a log just outside Eagle Crag, the centre originally built for youngsters ‘at risk’ as we now say, but now a well-used youth base. It looked empty and I mused on the fact that one day, maybe we could hope for a brand new replacement building with views to Langdale.
Breakfast is usually 8am sharp but today by 7.45 two of last night's groups were already tucking in. No sooner had they gone (having cleared away their own plates of course!) when staff were re-setting tables for the 60 lively youngsters staying in Old Brathay. With second sittings like this it was clear that Brathay was working to capacity. But still just room left for your Archivist. I hand back my key and apologise for being a trouble.