Happy New Year! After a very busy and hectic Christmas and New Year, Bruce and I decided we needed a break, just the two of us. As relationships go, ours had got lost somewhere between the logistics of raising 3 teenage boys(and a part-time pre-teenage girl) and the demands of work. We usually go to Malta, visit family and hang out in Paceville, bar & club central of Malta, and despite being the oldest swingers in town we have a great time. This year our finances couldn’t stretch to that or much else to be honest, so when I received my daily Groupon e-mail offering a 2 night stay in the Lake District, bed and breakfast with 1 night dinner thrown in, I jumped at the chance.
That is how we ended up one Thursday afternoon at the Lancrigg Country House Vegetarian Hotel & Restaurant near Grasmere, Cumbria. On approaching the Hotel from the single track valley road you are met with a pleasant country manor with curvy bay windows and rounded chimneys. The views across the Easedale Valley are gorgeous and the setting quiet and secluded. William Wordsworth and his wife spent many times here with their friend, I believe her name to be Elizabeth, who then owned the house. The owner was quite something, she was involved with prison reforms, womens welfare and freedom of slaves as well as having some distinguished friends, Darwin and Dickens included. It is these connections and the setting that attracts people to the house, the staff informed us many literary people came to stay however it was mainly Grouponers there during our stay.
The interior is cosy, a bit dated and shabby but the atmosphere is so warm and relaxed and the staff so professional and welcoming you hardly notice the decor. We enjoyed a fabulous vegetarian meal; as a vegetarian myself I could be biased but Bruce, a carnivore, thoroughly enjoyed his pumpkin and cashew nut pie. We spent the evening in the lounge, with a roaring fire and glass of wine, talking to other guests and generally putting the world to rights. As we talked I thought of a time when Dickens visited or Wordsworth perhaps sat in this very room discussing issues of the day – prison reform (criminal justice), emancipation of slaves (racism and the recent Stephen Lawrence verdict) womens rights (we didn’t get round to that one but I did exercise my right to have another glass of wine). We slumped into our comfortable bed, knowing that breakfast would be served until 10am and had a fabulous nights sleep.
The next day, after a scrummy breakfast, we took a short walk through the wooded grounds of Lancrigg and into the valley. The weather was moving in so we did a circular back to the hotel and decided to take Fugly the Car on a whistle-stop tour of the Lakes. First to Buttermere, one of my favourite parts of the area which you reach through a bleak and mountainous pass. We paid £3.00 for the car park and walked the short distance to the Lake shore and waterfall. It felt like we were about to be engulfed by the mountains as the black low-level clouds and rain moved in. We quickly walked back to the cafe and dried out enjoying a coffee, Bruces trainers did not dry out though so he spent the rest of the day in his ‘posh’ shoes. There are two hotels here in the middle of nowhere; The Bridge which I’ve stayed at a couple of times and adored, especially tea and cakes at 4pm after a day out on the fells and The Fish Inn which used to do a very good value lunch in the bar, both are closed early January so we were thankful for the newly opened cafe.
Onwards to Keswick to search the charity shops for a pair of trainers unsuccessfully but I can highly recommend the Oxfam shop and Bruce bought a scarf from Cancer Research. I’ve spent many hours in Keswick but it was throwing it down and I didn’t intent to spend hours this time however I couldn’t resist the over priced but very old-fashioned sweet shop. We bought my Dad some fudge and then ate it, whoops sorry Dad! Car Park cost £3.00.
To Hawkshead where they have car park cameras which send an automatic fine if you don’t get your ticket within 15 minutes – cost £3.00. There’s an option to use a credit/debit card but after several attempts with various cards, no success so we nipped across the road to the cafe. The staff informed us of the Big Brother cameras and Bruce went outside in the pouring rain again to a mostly deserted car park to pay another bloody £3.00 so we could have a coffee and look around Hawkshead. The coffee was lovely but the weather was not so we headed for the ferry to Bowness along an increasingly flooded road on a dark January evening – I love a bit of drama. The ferry takes 5 mins maximum and cuts out the need to drive around the bottom of Windermere – cost £4.60. The rain was relentless so we took shelter in a bar and chatted to a couple from Kent and had a few drinks. We had spotted that Jacksons Bistro did an early evening special set price menu but by the time we left the bar we had missed the dead line, we went in any way. The food was bistro style and delicious, after 2 days of Veggy grub Bruce thoroughly enjoyed his duck. We left and wound our way back to the hotel, avoiding the floods along a dark and deserted road.
The next morning the rain was now a fine drizzle and the wind had got up (weather wind just to be clear although all that vegetarian food….). We had breakfast and set off to party in Blackpool. To be continued……