Thursday, May 26, 2016
Lord Bonkers' Diary: The jellyfish of the Lakeland fells
“There are no jellyfish in the Lake District,” our own Tim Farron told the prime minister the other day, displaying a strange lack of knowledge of his own constituency. Cameron, you may recall, told everyone to holiday in the North of England following the recent floods, before jetting off to Lanzarote himself.
Last time the PM was there he was stung by a jellyfish – I presume it had been reading about his welfare policy. Incidentally, if stung by the feared Rutland Man o’ War when swimming in Rutland Water, the consensus is that one should urinate upon the affected area or ask a friend to do so if it proves Hard to Reach. I am not sure if it makes it sting any the less, but it tends to take your mind off it.
Where was I? Oh yes, jellyfish in the Lake District. When the Kendal Mint Cake industry was established in the mid 18th century, its product was a beige colour. However, public taste changed and, by the accession of Victoria, had come to demand the pristine white bars we know today. It was found that the only safe and effective way of bleaching the cake was by the use of an extract of jellyfish, so they were introduced to the area. Ullswater and Thirlmere were soon simply teeming with the things.
Other means of whitening the mint cake were later found, which is why these lakes are today mercifully free of jellyfish. By then, however, some had escaped to the fells, where they live to this day. The unwary walker who strays too far from the path may yet find himself suffering a nasty sting.
Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West, 1906-10.
Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary