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Welcoming The Light…

March 14, 2010

Glowing Sprites on Stilts

Glowing Sprites on Stilts

After a Twitter tip off from our friend, Moregeous, we decided to head off yesterday morning to Carlisle, to be a part of the historical ‘Illuminating The Wall’ event. Having grown up a stone’s throw from the wall, it has always held a real air of mystique and magic for me – school trips to Vindolanda, Housesteads and Segedenum Fort were always so much more exciting than the usual end of term trips to Whitley Bay’s Spanish City [now definitely showing my age for those of you who know this neck of the woods!].

So, up the M6, with a quick detour through the Lakes – Windermere – check, Bowness – check, Ambleside – check, Grasmere – check, Keswick – check – we hit Carlisle. I know that it may seem a waste on a gloriously sunny spring day, not to savour the Lakes a bit more, but again this goes back to my childhood. When you spend nearly every summer’s holiday in The Lake District, it becomes a bit like your own back garden. Larger, granted. More beautiful, granted. But still very familiar. So I feel absolved for not stopping longer and taking in the scenery. Besides, I had a bit of history to savour.

All seemed very uncharacteristically geared up for such an event in Carlisle – the only evidence we could find on arrival was a tent selling flares. The hotel [which shall remain nameless, as we’ve used this chain of hotels before when we’ve missed flights and are sure to do so again!] we’d booked into had no idea the event was happening – this, coupled with the hen parties spilling in and out of the hotel, mid afternoon, made us realise driving back to Manchester would be preferable. The canon camera had been forgotten in the haste to get on the road and the i-phone was slowly running out of juice, so now photo opportunities were limited to my sad little Motorola. All not looking good.

However, at about 5, the crowds started to gather and it was clear something was about to happen – a Samba band, accompanied by pink and purple butterflies emerged, and all of a sudden it had all started. A fire breathing contraption wound its way through the crowds, deftly avoiding the very ethereal sprite like creatures on stilts, wearing what can only be described as wedding dresses and Cossack style white fur hats.

The Fire Breathing Machine

The Fire Breathing Machine

As dusk descended, suddenly what seemed like thousands of flares were lit, almost as if by magic and the procession started. With a regard to Health & Safety that would have most people quaking with fear, we all wound our way out of the town square and through the streets of Carlisle to the castle.

Health & Safety...?

Health & Safety...?

By the time we arrived at the castle grounds, darkness had fallen and the sight was beyond magical – an acrobat, suspended above the crowd, in a glowing sphere, literally floated above our heads, and was accompanied by a fireworks display which was truly spectacular.

The Light Arrives in Carlisle

The Light Arrives in Carlisle

By half seven it was all over, but it felt very special to have been a very small part of a very big piece of history – after all, the last time Hadrian’s Wall was lit up from east coast to west coast was 1600 years ago when the Roman armies departed.


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