DRA's Tribute



Carolyn and Diana, Easter 2000

Diana kindly agreed to speak at the thanksgiving service for Carolyn's life held on 1st December 2000.  This is what she said:

Geoffrey has asked me to talk about Carolyn and the Fallan Years. If you have never heard of a "Fallan", I suggest you visit www.thefallans.co.uk.  But for now, suffice it to say that in 1978, the Fallows family and the Allan family spent a week over Easter in the Lake District together and from then until Easter 2000, we have never missed a year. 

Of course, in 1978, the children ranged in age from 1 to 7 and now they are all over 23, so things have changed, but Carolyn's part was pivotal throughout. 

That first year, I tried - and failed - to match Carolyn's culinary skills and domestic efficiency, but the task was quite beyond me, so I gave up and did what I was told, which wasn't much as mostly it had all been done by the time I got up in the morning.  But Carolyn was irrepressible, arriving year after year laden with turkey, ham and succulent puddings, turning the week into a gourmet's delight and a weight-watcher's nightmare.  So great was Carolyn's fame for the culinary delights she produced that, in 1979, when Geoffrey's brother and his then girlfriend, Mollie, joined us for Easter lunch, Mollie drew a picture immortalising the scene in which Carolyn alone is depicted with a halo, and a Good Conduct chart is prominently displayed on the wall on which two points each are awarded to Geoffrey, Richard and myself, but Carolyn has scooped the pool with ten. 

But, ostensibly at least, the main purpose of those holidays was to walk, and in the early years, we all had to cajole and bribe the children with sweets to get them up the hills.  Carolyn was always full of bright ideas to keep them moving and, in the very early years, she was often to be found swinging our younger son, Jeremy, upwards on her hip - a fact of which she often reminded him in recent years as he disappeared into the mist to knock off a few more peaks. 

Of course, things did not always go smoothly, especially on the fells, and Carolyn and I frequently had occasion to moan together about the incompetence of our husbands who would take Ordnance Survey maps by the score, Wainwrights by the dozen and a compass each and still bring us down in the wrong place.  In 1979, Carolyn was even moved to illustrate the Log we kept with a picture of Geoffrey and Richard in their woolly hats, totally lost as usual. 

But to get the true flavour of what Carolyn suffered and just how far she was prepared to go to indulge Geoffrey's passion for the Lakes, here is a brief passage she wrote in the Log for 1979: 

"Allans generously offered to look after all the children for the day while Geoffrey and Carolyn had a good walk on their own. Started from Peter's Farm near Bassenthwaite, up Dash Beck to Dash Falls, round Dead Crags via Broad End, onto Skiddaw for lunch.  Rather misty views but not cold. Down Sale How to Skiddaw Hause and carried on down River Caldew.  We saw a lot of dead sheep all along the route.  Once at the River Caldew, we 

needed the compass that had been left in the car. Geoffrey offered either the quick route up Bowscale Fell, or the flatter, but longer, route around the edge.  Carolyn decided she would never hear the end of the easy option so we set off up Bowscale Fell.  Sadly Geoffrey hadn't realised the River Caldew was full of water and difficult to cross.  (Footnote: N.B. River Caldew is not fordable at this time of year according to Wainwright. Geoffrey only tells me that when I get home.)  (Foot-footnote from G: The River Caldew is not fordable at any time!)  After a half-mile trek the way we'd come, we eventually took off our boots and waded across through freezing water up to our knees.  Once that was navigated, a quick Messner ascent of Bowscale Fell via a very long detour (it seemed to me) saw us, at last, on top ready for the nip down the Tongue to Mungrisdale." 

In spite of all, Carolyn really loved the Lake District and, not only was she ready to follow Geoffrey through thick and thin, she was also famous in the early years for her tendency to climb trees, walls and to lead the children up any rocks which crossed our path.  Each year, the house where we were staying had to be examined to see if there was any way of climbing up the wall and in through an upstairs window or, alternatively, for an upstairs window from which we could jump out.  However, she was most infamous for her aquatic activities. It all started in 1980 and the Log tells the tale: 

"As a grande finale and with the sun still urging us on, Carolyn issued a direct challenge to the faint-hearted - Angler's Crag for a swim - and so, at sunset, and with the reflections of the Ennerdale fells to give her much-needed warmth, the mighty deed was done. And so hurt was some of the male pride by this Amazonian performance that first Jonathan (eagerly) and then Richard (reluctantly) gave the fans a glimpse of their prowess." 

After that, swimming often featured and it was usually Carolyn who issued the challenge and was first to brave the icy water. Most of our madder moments - and there were many - were either led by Carolyn or found her very much in the van.  So, on the last night of our tenth anniversary Easter in 1987, after we had all climbed Hallin Fell in the dark and our bare feet, it was Carolyn and Richard who joined the children in pushing and pulling each other around on the luggage trolley.  According to the Log: 

"Carolyn enjoyed riding down the hill best, with Richard running after the trolley, brandy in hand, swigging every few steps." 

We were all caught up in Carolyn's exuberance and love of life. It was hard not to have fun when she was around. Those holidays were a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. And as for her mad ideas, well, we still haven't barbecued the Easter turkey on top of a suitable fell - not yet anyway.

DRA, November 2000

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