Tag Archives: Lake District

Great Expectations, or A Disappointing Breakfast and a Damp Day

Sorry, due to a lethargic few days I missed posting on Sunday after we got back and fell asleep in my chair last night, waking after midnight – too cold, too stiff and too late to post.

When I say “yesterday” I mean Sunday.

Yesterday we went to Lakeland. It sounds good. It sounds like it should be a National Park full of lakes and trees and thoughts of Wordsworth. In fact Lakeland, formerly Lakeland Plastics, is Britain’s biggest seller of kitchen accessories, as generations of long-suffering husbands have found to their cost.

We actually went to the HQ, the flagship store, or the Mother Lode, call it what you will. Julia set me down in the cafe with a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake and told me to stop whimpering.

Fortunately the Lakeland shop is based in Windermere, which is in the Lake District, so it could have been a lot worse. If it had been the one in Nottingham the views would have been terrible and there would have been no cake.

We started the day by waking up in Skipton, having dropped Number One son off in Leeds on the way through. We didn’t really need to drop him off but Julia hadn’t seen his new flat so there was a certain amount of nosiness involved.

To get me to agree to the trip she had promised me a night in a Travelodge followed by breakfast at the farm shop next door.

I am easily bought, but having visited the farm shop to buy pies and veg before I had high hopes for the breakfast.

I’d still recommend it for pies and veg, but can only say that my high hopes were not entirely justified. For one thing, we arrived at the front door to find it closed. There is a much smaller entrance at the other end of the building and no sign that we could see. If it hadn’t been for someone walking past and telling us we would probably have driven away and eaten somewhere else. With hindsight…

The cafe is new since we last stayed in Skipton. It’s nicely set up in the modern fashion (ie tables made from planks with paint on and that sort of gubbins) and was bustling. There were plenty of staff about, we were shown to a table fairly quickly and although I was sort of sitting in a gangway it wasn’t too bad.

I think they had to fit the table in that way. Seeing as they took twenty quid off us, and presumably off several other people during the course of the day you can see why they succumbed to the temptation to crowd an extra table in. It did cause a bit of a hold-up several times but that wasn’t my problem.

We ordered tea. We waited. We eventually ordered breakfast. We waited some more. The waitress who had taken the tea order noticed we hadn’t had the tea and chased it up for us with profuse apologies. The tea arrived. So did the breakfast.

We’d been there about twenty five minutes, which is a bit too long for breakfast. I want to feed and get back on the road.

It was busy, to be fair, but they had plenty of staff. The problem was that it all seemed a little chaotic and disorganised. Several couples who came in after us had their drinks before we did, and one even had their food order.

This gave me time to inspect our table properly – there were three uncleaned grease spots on on it and a big blob of something foodlike adhering to the salt cellar.

The good bits were – nice bustling atmosphere, lovely friendly staff (though the supervisor seemed a bit frazzled), excellent black pudding, fried eggs done exactly as I like them (turned over, set all the way through), great hash browns, tasty mushrooms, good portion size.

Average or  a bit above – Sausages were above OK but not as good as expected from the write-up. Bacon tasted good but had been cooked until leathery, massive cups which I always feel let the tea get cold (and are tricky for arthritic fingers).

The not so good bits – long wait, served out of turn, cold baked beans, poor signage, toilets upstairs, table hygiene (not just our table, they were a bit perfunctory with their wiping down – I was watching).

Then three women with pushchairs decided that they really had to make me move so they could get past. I’m sure that they could have got through without all the fuss and pulled faces, but some people just love to make a drama out of nothing. It’s not like they are the first people to push a kid in a pushchair…

Anyway, enough for now. I may well go to Greggs next time we stay at Skipton. It’s not a great breakfast experience but it is value for money, quick and never disappointing. I don’t expect much from them and I don’t provide much so our expectations meet perfectly.

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My Stalker

Did I mention it rained? If you know the Lakes you probably already knew this. It rained the first time I went there, around 1964, and it’s been raining ever since. To be fair, it only rained for about thirty minutes. Judging from the puddles I think they had more rain in Nottingham than we did.

A Boring, Hot, Stuffy Day

I suppose the title gives it away.

But in case it didn’t, I’ve spent the day doing boring things in a hot shop with very poor ventilation.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon drinking cold fizzy drinks from the shop across the road. This could have been a fatal amount of sugar, but it was a risk I was prepared to take. Tomorrow I will be taking water in bottles that have been in the freezer overnight. The plan is that they will provide a constant supply of cold water as they gradually melt.

I will let you know how that goes.

These brilliant plans have a habit of not working out.

I thought I’d use some photographs from the Lake District to remind me of more interesting times and less oppressive weather.

It’s on days like this that my thoughts turn to new career paths. With my lack of talent and qualifications I have very little choice. I can win the lottery or I can…

That’s about it.

I could write a profitable blog, but I’ve never quite grasped the principle when reading those websites about making thousands of dollars.

I could, I suppose, film myself doing things and become an internet sensation, like Grumpy Cat. I can do grumpy, but that probably isn’t enough to become an Internet Sensation.

I may have to look at content writing again.

Or I might buy a fan for my desk. It will be winter soon enough and then I will just have the boredom to cope with.

Boredom isn’t too bad.

Though the job would be improved by having a window looking out at a lake.

Here’s a shot taken using the “Dramatic” setting on the camera. I couldn’t resist.

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Ullswater again

 

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Pied Wagtail, Ullswater

And here’s a picture of a Pied Wagtail. I tried fifteen shots and this is the only one with a whole unblurred bird in it.

And Finally…

We ended up in Windermere, though the photos are taken in Bowness, on the side of the lake. There was plenty to see. This included raindrops, though there were also Jackdaws, pigeons and boats.

We once went on a boat trip in weather that was only marginally better than this. However, we are older and wiser and less able to put up with freezing rain these days, so we just walked round a bit, took photos and went in gift shops. We went into a shop called Pitlochry in Lakeland. It turned out to be the Edinburgh Wool Mill under a different name. If you want tweed, Scottish knitwear and shortbread biscuits, this is the shop for you.

It also includes all those essential ingredients of shopping in England – a shop assistant on the phone whining about working conditions, another swapping phone numbers with a passing friend and a third taking ages over a simple task. Serving customers? Don’t be silly.

There was quite a lot to see, even in a short walk. I resisted the temptation to post too many leaves. I couldn’t resist the shrink-wrapped boat though, or the sculptures. According to the local paper there are plans for sculpture trail between Bowness and Windermere, but sadly no clue to this load of scrap iron in the park.

They look a bit like leeks, I don’t know. What I do now know, after googling “sculpture bowness” is that Dame Barbara Hepworth had a son-in-law called Alan Bowness and that there is a lot of sculpture, including fibreglass Herdwicks, in the Lake District. I’m not sure if any of the sheep are still about to be seen – I will, however, have a look next time we go.

I tried to be artistic, but people aren’t very adventurous in their choice of umbrella. Some people really have no consideration for photographers.  They also kept moving and others got in the way, destroying a well-composed shot of the big green and white umbrella group. One of the culprits with a random head in the frame, was my own dear wife. Pah!

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The view from Bowness – mainly rain

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Boats on Windermere

Food in the Lake District

Conveniently close to the Travelodge at Skipton – next door in fact – is a branch of the Keelham Farm Shop.  It has a good selection (as you will see if you click the link) of fresh fruit and veg, bread, booze and pies. It also has an exchange scheme where you can take in home-grown produce and swap it for other things, a cafe, and a varied programme of events.

If you are up that way it’s worth a visit.

Later we visited Tebay services. You can buy a small pork pie at Tebay for just £2.20, if you can get to them as all the gangways seemed to be clogged up by members of staff who were doing frightfully important stuff. You can buy one at Keelham for £1.10, though their pies lack the plastic packaging. Next time I will buy my pies at Keelhams as they are (a) cheaper and (b) better for the planet.

You can buy hot pies for £3, so we had them for lunch. Julia had the Lamb and Mint and I had the Steak and Ale. They both had plenty of healthy vegetables in them, which lightened them up a bit as a pie full of meat can be a bit hard to digest.

I have mixed feelings about Tebay. They have a massive selection of items, including books and clothing plus the usual farm shop stuff, but with pots of jam over £5, for instance, I always feel this isn’t my natural habitat.

They also fall down on minor details – water on the floor in the Gents, a missing knob on the teapot lid and the muddy surroundings to the duck pond, which always look a mess. I just have the feeling that the quality stock, and the excellent dining areas, deserve attention to detail.

So – if you want a Farm Shop go to Keelham. If you want a gift shop go to Tebay. I can’t really comment on the pies because I haven’t eaten at Keelham.

A Day in the Lake District

As part of Julia’s birthday celebrations I planned a long weekend away in the Lake District. The plan did not go well, and was shortened by both her cold and a visit from Number One son. So, on Sunday we headed off for our Plan B break – a day in the Lakes.

After dropping Number One son off in Leeds we headed off for Skipton and the Travelodge. We passed the night there in relative luxury, with a quiet heating system, water that was, if anything, too hot, and nice fluffy towels. We were even able to complain about it being too hot.

It started to rain shortly after we arrived, continued through the night and was still going when we woke up.

At least we were able have a decent breakfast, provided by the Little Chef in the car park. Soon, I suppose, it will be something else. At least one I know has already been turned into a Starbucks and another is going to be converted. You can tell something is going to happen to them because very little has been spent on maintenance recently and a lot of them seem to be closing early.  They really have had a troubled history after the glory days when they virtually owned the roadside. According to the above link, they will all be closed next year.

The days of wine and roses are not long, as the poem says.

There aren’t many pictures, I’m afraid, as the combination of rain and low light meant you’d need to be a magician to get a result, rather than a mere photographer. Grey mist, leaden skies, slate grey water and, at best, light black hills, don’t make for easy photography. And that was when we weren’t troubled by low cloud.

When there was light and a view we couldn’t park. Julia did take some video clips as we drove along, but I can’t get any of them to load.

Later on we did get a few photos, and some meat pies, but that will be another post. Hopefully I’ll get caught up tomorrow.