Virginia Barton

5 May 2017: Struggle

5 May 2017: Struggle


5 May 2017


There’s a road leading up from Brotherswater, a mere puddle of a lake, to Kirkstone Pass. It’s known as The Struggle. And if you try biking up it you’ll know why.


It used to be a drover’s path like so many other roads in the Lakes, which then became the route for coaches. Poor horses. The passengers that were able would have to get out and walk. In winter the road is very often closed because of dirty weather. At the head of the Pass is a fancy Inn with optimistic umbrellas for “weather permitting.”

800px-The_Struggle_Road_Sign_BottomFrom the heights of Kirkstone you may bowl down to Windermere in comparatively easy stages and from thence to Mr Wordsworth’s house, Dove cottage, or Miss Potter’s. Thousands do this “in the footsteps of …” trek every year, struggling past the mob at the pier who jostle for seats on the boats that go up and down the lake; or who crowd the little shops selling fishing nets, fudge and souvenirs.


Struggling is on my mind because I am trying to write something about my parents. Not a eulogy, not an appreciation, or a biography. A few simple paragraphs to show how they seemed to me, which might account for myself being the way I am.

Perhaps a eulogy, appreciation or biography would have been easier. I find myself in a twist of falsities where absolutely nothing rings true apart from bald facts.

Any tips anyone?




  • Coal-Filled Wellies says on: May 5, 2017 at 3:56 pm


    Biographer chums tell me that they spend most of their working time immersing themselves in their subjects, reading/interviewing about them from all possible sources. Is there much to read, e.g. letters? Or people to talk to about your parents?

    Meanwhile I think you have to approach them as an outsider.

    A proper struggle!

  • Mary says on: May 5, 2017 at 4:19 pm


    Maybe stick to the bald facts, Ginny?

    All the other sentiments will be tucked in underneath or glimpsed between the lines.

    • Ginny says on: May 6, 2017 at 1:57 pm


      Forgive my bundling you both together in my reply.

      Yes, there will bald facts. But if you give bald facts of yourself (have a go at writing yours down) I fear you won’t read much between the lines. E.g.: d.o.b., place of birth, sex, current address, education, profession, parent’s professions, dates and places of birth. Nationality as of this date, married status and number and sex of any children. Etc Etc. That’s more than an application for a British passport, and how interesting is that? Do send a character sketch out of that info!

      And Wellies asks for more research than I am prepared to do at the age of 80! Their contemporaries are dead or out of their wits; my sister will have some in common, but mostly diametrically opposite memories to mine.

      No, I must struggle on myself in my own muddled way and leave it to readers to comment:

      “Oh my dear Virginia, how could you? They were nothing like that. Don’t you remember so and so, and such and such? You are so, so wrong!”

      The fur and flak will fly and I must face the furies.

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