“High in the cold, old Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan there was a man who lived all alone except for his flock of sheep. No one ever visited him, but he wasn’t lonely. For the old man was making a magic carpet.”
These are the opening lines of My Bedtime Book of Magic Carpet Stories from many Lands by Patricia Taylor, which was my favourite book when I was growing up in London in the 1970s.
When I opened that book, I would choose one of 129 different countries and be flown to that land on my magic carpet – a flight of the imagination. Just a few lines of words and a drawing conjured up a world that seemed magical at the time, and captured the essence of each country.
It remained my favourite book for about 10 years and is still on my bookshelf at home in Cumbria, which has been my home for the past 30 years.
Many years later, I feel the luckiest person in the world – yesterday, when preparing to speak at the British Tourism & Travel Show ’23 about the benefits that booking a Blue Badge Guide can bring to a visit to Northern England, I realised that training as a Blue Badge Guide actually gave me a driving licence for my own special Magic Carpet!
Rydal Water, Lake District. Photo by Tess Pike
I have the skills to fly my guests around on that carpet, from Cumbria and Liverpool in the North West of England, across the Pennine hills into the North East of England and Yorkshire, weaving stories as I go and opening visitors’ eyes to the history, geography, natural beauty, industrial heritage, literary characters, historic houses and gardens and everything else that goes to making up the patchwork quilt that is our island.
Alnwick Castle, a Harry Potter film location. Photo by Tess Pike
I can be showing visitors the beautiful Lake District one day, the cosmopolitan city of Liverpool the next, then I might take a cross-country train to lead a walking tour in York, before heading to Port of Tyne to take cruise liner guests to Durham, Alnwick Castle or Holy Island.
Anyone who saw the first episode of Sir David Attenborough’s most recent series “Wild Isles”, where he travels around our shores, may have heard him say how he’s travelled around the globe, but still never fails to be amazed by the natural wonders of our small and uniquely positioned set of islands.
Joanne Hunter with Grasmere Gingerbread. Photo by Tess Pike
How right he is… In the future, when I take visitors on a Billy Shiel’s boat trip to the Farne Islands off the north east coast of England, sit on the shore of Rydal Water in the Lake District nibbling on a piece of Grasmere Gingerbread, or watch the sun setting as I relax on the bench next to Ray Lonsdale’s “Big Fella” sculpture in Silloth on the Solway Coast, I’ll be thinking how lucky I am to have managed to land my carpet in this idyllic spot.
The Silloth “Big Fella”. Photo by Tess Pike
Blue and Green Badge Guides are Britain’s Best Guides because we know how to use our extensive knowledge and love tailoring our tours to our audience. If our guests want their magic carpet to fly to filming locations for All Creatures Great and Small, Vera, Heartbeat, Gentleman Jack, or Harry Potter, we take them; if they want to discover David Hockney’s hidden Wolds, we know the best places to go – we can help people’s dreams come true and storytelling, comes as standard.
About the Author
Tess Pike is an English and German speaking Blue Badge Tourist Guide in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region/Merseyside and the North East of England. Since she qualified, over 2o years ago, she has guided Swiss farmers around the Yorkshire Dales, Scandinavian roofers through the Lake District, 9-year old school children around her local town, film crews around Liverpool, families arriving in the Lake District by private plane, train and superyacht, and many other visitors on sightseeing tours. You can book a magical guided tour with Tess here