Monday, 6 September 2010


Hello all! I'm going to tell you about my holiday now. Not that you care, but it's a cliche and if it's good enough for Ben, it's bloody well good enough for me. My holiday in the Lake District was 99% good, and 1% bad. In the spirit of wanting bad news before the good news, here's the bad:

Friday night/Saturday morning I got no sleep. None at all. Not one second. Which meant that yesterday we loaded the car and set off on the long journey back to Lovejoy Towers, my good self shivering in the back and feeling like a zombie. Halfway home we stopped off at my Grans, where I was allowed a lie down in the spare bed. I got about 20 minutes sleep, before being woken up by my cousin and brother who were engaging in a particularly raucous game of Hide n Seek. However, I got home in one piece, and after a 10 hour sleep last night and a hearty breakfast of cold Chinese, I feel like a human being again. So let's cut the moaning and go onto the good stuff.

Our cottage for the week was in the charming village of Skirwith. Here it is in all it's glory (not my pic):

See the patch of grass on the left that looks like a triangle, with the blue car on it? That was our parking space - the cottage is one of the white houses just there. It was small, but perfectly charming and lovely. The beds were fucking atrocious, but then I'm spoilt at home with my Memory Foam mattress.

Could I live in Skirwith? No, and neither could any non-driver.The nearest shop is in Penrith - about a 15 minute drive away. The nearest pub is a 10 minute drive away. As the cleaning lady who was looking after the cottage said to us, "you certainly have to manage your cupboards wisely here."

Penrith itself is lovely. An old fashioned town, with plenty of interesting shops, although the shopping arcade sector is a bit scruffy. The great thing about the town is that it doesn't have a Tesco - I've seen with my own eyes in my hometown how a Tesco megastore nearby completely destroys the little shops in the town. Penrith has a tiny Morrisons and thats it. I liked that.

So, what did we do? As you might have gathered, to get anywhere in the Lake District you have to drive. The vast majority of roads are windy and tight, narrow little lanes, and even A Roads are tricky to navigate. This means that you have to drive for a while - I remember on one day to get back to the cottage it was 26 miles. On a motorway, thats 20 minutes. On a dual carriageway, 25-30 minutes. Around the Lake District? 1 hour.

As such my esteemed father didn't want to drive every day, so we had a few days (Sunday, Tuesday and Friday) of lounging around, walking the dog around the village and generally chilling. So that will explain the gaps in days you're about to see:

A tour of Ullswater, Windermere and Coniston Water. You might notice that there I haven't put "Lake" Windermere, "Lake" Ullswater etc. That's because, amusingly, in the Lake District there's only one body of water called "Lake", and that's Bassenthwaite Lake. Tru story bro. There's not too much I can say about the "lakes", so let's progress onto where we stopped for lunch.

The Drunken Duck Inn was outstanding - quite rightly too, judging by the extortionate prices on show. One thing about the Lake District - it's a real "tourist trap" and perhaps is another reason I couldn't live up there. Four sandwiches (which came with 2 bowls of chips) and four drinks came in at well over £30. I'm just glad I wasn't paying! The story behind the name of the Inn is interesting:

This unofficial title dates back to Victorian years when a landlady of the Inn found her ducks lying stretched out in the road and concluded that they were dead.
Thriftily she began to pluck and prepare them for dinner. The ducks however, were "quick" and not dead. Down in the cellar a barrel had slipped its hoops and beer had gradually drained from the floor into the duck's customary feeding ditch. Thereupon the ducks made all too good use of their unexpected opportunity, with the result that when they came to they found themselves plucked and halfway to the oven.
According to local legend, the landlady, full of remorse for the rough treatment, provided the de-feathered birds with knitted waistcoats of Hawkshead yarn until their feathers grew back again.

Up to Northumberland, where we took in Housesteads Roman Fort, with a section of Hadrian's Wall right behind it. Not my picture:

The Romans were no mugs. The fort is on top of a steep hill, meaning we had a lengthy and slightly tough climb to walk up to it. You certainly wouldn't be in the mood for fighting once you had made that trek.

Behind the fort was Hadrian's Wall, and what stood out for me was the smoothness and the flat surface of the top of it. I think this might be because they put some time of added security onto the top of the wall - maybe some wooden pieces to make it almost impossible to penetrate. The wall itself is not very high. It was interesting, but as I later remarked, "Once you've seen one wall, I suppose you've seen them all."

As we weren't too far away, we decided to pop into Scotland, as I've never been up there before. We drove past the border and into Gretna, passing this house on the way (not my pic):

Next to Gretna is Gretna Green, a quirky little town. In 1753 an Act of Parliament was passed (in England) declaring that if a couple were not both 21 years of age, they had to get the consent of their parents before they could marry. However this ruling was not in force in Scotland, so young couples eloped up into Scotland to get married behind their families backs. First place they came to when they went over the border? Gretna Green. The place has now become synonymous with weddings, and in our quick tour of the town we saw 2 wedding ceremonies taking place. Despite my pleas to stop and try and find a shop that would sell me a deep fried Mars bar (no, really) we went back across the border and back to the cottage. I have been to Scotland. Hoorah.

We drove to Keswick. I was very excited, as our destination for the day was the James Bond Museum. It's an odd location for it, and when you get there it's a pretty small place with only 3 rooms. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool, especially for nerds like me. On the way out I couldn't resist buying some tat, so I bought a pack of Bond Girls playing cards and a 100g chocolate bar which is in the form of a gold bar (a "Goldfinger Bar" no less). These two items cost £8. EIGHT QUID! Still, there's nice pics of Halle Berry and Fiona Fullerton for when I get lonely, so I'm not complaining (much).

On our way to having lunch in Ambleside, we passed Dove Cottage. Without Googling, do you know who lived there roughly 200 years ago?

Rainfall over the week - nil. About 15 minutes after we got home, it started to rain.

"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose".


  1. Good to see you had a nice time. Although nicking quotes off John Trewick is poor form.

  2. William and his sister Dorothy (inhabitants of Dove Cottage)
    Nice Holiday!

  3. Sounds like an excellent holiday.

    Your Shroppy Star-baiting is catching on:

  4. Glad you had a nice holiday. Nearly said you got a good photo of the first/last house in Scotland, until I saw the small print! We drove past it when we were on holiday in Scotland last month and my dad had his camera ready each time but we could never park up! You had nice weather too, I see.