Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Holiday fun. Part 1 - Lake District

We've been back a week but we're still longing to return to Skye which was our destination for one week of our two week holiday.

Having deposited the three cats at the cattery Tuesday evening, the rats with the inlaws the previous weekend and arranged for neighbours to feed the rabbit and chickens (and fish - nearly forgot them), we left for the Lake District on Wednesday, with our huge amout of "gear" neatly and very thoughtfully packed into the car (which we quickly worked out must be made of elastic). We just managed to squeeze Katie and Ben into their seats with pillows, model horses, magazines, books, craft stuff (which I demanded Katie leave behind, but luckily she sneaked it all in - some of which came in very handy during the two weeks) and overnight bags sandwiched in somehow. The car felt like an mega overweight elephant but she coped very well (we only needed to fill up three times throughout the whole two weeks - not bad). I'd planned our overnight stops to be about 5 1/2 hours drive between each other and all went pretty much according to plan.
Farmhouse at the camping site - Grizedale

We arrived at Grizedale (our first overnight camping stop) on a glorious sunny early afternoon to be told by a rather weary farm owner that the whole of the west side of the UK had experienced non-stop rain for the last 50 odd days (they'd even been marking the days off on their calendar) and that this was the first dry, warm day they'd seen in a considerable time. This put a smile on our faces, but of course what he was getting at was the fact the ground was a complete sodden, undrained mess, not suitable for any kind of tent, big or small. Well great! I'd phoned him two days before to confirm the booking and he didn't even mention a twitter about the ground.

Paul wasn't impressed. I, as usual in these situations, thought there must be a way round the problem. The kind owner offered, at no extra cost, one of this wooden forest huts. They look very pretty and were very romantic nestled among the trees, but they were tiny (and I mean tiny). I don't think he was happy that we turned one down, muttering that there were five adults sleeping in the one next door (what!) - actually that wasn't the case, three slept in the hut, two slept in a car - but that's another story!

The only other option was a gently slopping piece of land behind the farm house. We took it and experienced two nights of rolling into each other as we slept. I also think, looking back, the gradient put some strain on our tent poles - they protested as the holiday progressed.

I liked Grizedale. We came across their website by pure chance and it fitted us perfectly. Toilets, showers, washing up area - everything we needed, plus a stables at the site that offered woodland hacks. The staff were lovely, so friendly and welcoming. As we were tent assembling, the stables' owner came to see Katie to arrange a ride, and she was off immediately for a 2 hour hack with a couple of other locals. She came back with a splattering of thick black mud down one side, having jumped (or should I say mis-jumped) a log close to home. She didn't care - she's such a good kid, jumps up and puts it all down to experience.

Most of the wooden huts were hidden in nooks and crannies among the trees, up a fairly steep (and very slippery) hill. This was great for wandering through and with the added bonus of a small stream coming down the hill, was Ben's perfect setting. During the evening we investigated a fast flowing, much larger stream by the road at the entrance to the campsite. We all enjoyed a couple of paddles during our stay, although it was freezing cold, and we all had instructions from Paul on stone skimming which was successful.
Braving the water

First night was interesting. The five adults in the wooden hut (that were a stone's throw from our tent) turned into about eight+ adults and a dog celebrating a 30th birthday party. Seeing the sight of a few crates of Stella lead us to believe this wasn't going to be a quiet evening. How right we were! The shrieks and yelps, hearty laughs and interesting body noises went on into the early hours. They'd quieten down and then start up again which would make us all wake with a start. Some left about 1 a.m. and at about 4 a.m., all was a little more peaceful except for the joyous sound of one chap throwing up severely somewhere in our vicinity. After that - complete peace. Luckily for us, they only stayed the one night! Unlucky for the owner, not only did he have a great time clearing up after them, it appeared he had to do a spot of laundry too as we saw him bring back a pair of jeans and t-shirt for said "throwing up" guy!!
Picture perfect Lake Windermere

Thursday we spent the morning at Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's house near Sawry. We got up early and arrived around 10:30 and got an entry slot at 11:00. It made for a nice, interesting morning, although it wasn't all that I hoped it would be. Having seen the film (which we all loved), I thought the gardens would be much larger. Being allowed to wander around them as we waited for our allotted time, we'd finished viewing them within 5 minutes! The house, exactly as Beatrix had left it, was interesting. The curator at the door handed Katie and Ben one of the Beatrix Potter's books to follow as we looked around (Katie wasn't impressed at all feeling that she wasn't really a kid anymore), but actually it was lovely to see some of the furniture and items drawn in the book actually in the house. The Americans seem to find the whole thing absolutely "awesome" - seeing possessions that Beatrix would have actually owned and touched herself. Sorry, but I can't really get that.
Stunning Lake District scenery

We took the car ferry across Windermere and spent some of the afternoon there. The sun shone, the sky was blue and therefore so was the lake. It was lovely. Katie had been a bit nippy the night before in the tent (mainly due to the fact that we'd left the side "windows" open which naturally caused an unwanted draft), so we scooted around town to hunt down a fleece for her to cosy up in at night. Bargain of the century - two fleeces for £8 at the Edinburgh Wool Mill. The lady serving was so helpful to us, and then showed a completely different side when a group of Japanese tourists kept demanding the price of some scarves. Bli did she bark at them. They promptly left, and she promptly apologised to us! We all bought ice creams and Katie went for fudge, deciding to get it all by herself. I stayed outside the shop hoping she'd be able to work out if she had enough pennies as the fudge was all priced per gram. I needn't have worried. All those times I've pulled my hair out trying to drum home the most basic of maths and she waltzes into the shop and works it all out without a bat of an eyelid!

Windermere was heaving with tourists. How dumb we were to think others wouldn't holiday outside school times! Ha, ha - learnt that lesson.

Friday morning, we headed off to Loch Lomond.

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