a pole with two small solar panels, a weather vane, moisture sensor and a webcam with trees in the background.

The Journey to Cumbria 2023

I am just about to begin the journey from Nottingham, where Future Machine lives between appearances (across the road from Christ Church Gardens at my artist studio, gallery and community space in Primary) to Windermere, Cumbria, Lake District. For next week’s appearances.

I have an unexpected half hour to relax and write. Everything is packed up, some things are already in the car and Futie is prepared for the precarious trip down the stairs on the ramp and out of the studio, to be pulled apart and squeezed into the car for the journey north. It fits, just. We are still searching for a non petrol, sustainable way to journey around England that is affordable and manageable but for now squeezing into our bashed up Toyota Verso will have to do.

Robin is here at this end to help, and check on the way Future Machine reads the weather that got messed up again – we discovered I’d made a typo on an abbreviation of Sep(no ‘t’) that somehow broke it. There is always something new to break, even after 3 years.

Despite this, there is also something grounding about preparing in one place for the next. It is like tuning an instrument. I enjoy the ritual of rewriting the news from the planet to respond to what is happening on our planet with the help of John King, senior climate scientist at the British Antarctic Survey. This is the prompt Future Machine prints out before you speak to the future. Checking the weather averages are set up properly for the month and playing the right music – when it was broken by the typo yesterday yet again Future Machine insisted on playing the ‘it’s raining music’, when it definitely wasn’t raining inside my studio! Checking the past, present, future lever works, and that the messages from the past are set up for the school children (a few are not quite appropriate).

This ritual, one of many that are emerging as the years pass, prepares us both.

…I am now in Windermere, waiting to take Future Machine to the Lakes School to prepare to go with Miss Fitzherbert’s A-Level Biology class to see how close we can get to the waters of Troutbeck, now that United Utilities have blocked access along the banks by the bridge. If the hurricane predicted for Wednesday doesn’t linger and after a badly timely Covid scare when I arrived all should be ready. I have the all clear now and we’re ready to go after checking everything still works after being in the car for a few days. I haven’t attempted to go to the water yet in a hurricane, i’m not sure the wind speed sensor is up to it, but the music will be exciting. We will find out whatever the Cumbrian weather brings!

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