14th JUNE 2010


Uncle Brian and Dad have stayed a few times at their luxury retreat in the Lake District, Armathwaite Hall Hotel, on the northern shores of Bassenthwaite Lake.

I am Fletcher, and on one of their early visits, I was fortunate to be spotted by Dad, who said to Uncle Brian, "he has a lovely face, and I am going to adopt him"

How lucky for me, and since then I have come along every time they have returned here, and indeed some of the staff recognise me when I go in with Dad to check in.

Such are the sumptuous six course dinners, that during the day they only need to have a small snack for lunch, so any thought of tackling the afternoon tea at the hotel, would be beyond even Dad's large appetite.

Originally they had planned to go to Elaine's Tea Room at Feizor, one of their favourite places, but she had sent Uncle Brian a message via Facebook, that the electricity would be off, so she would be closed. Instead Dad suggested going to Armathwaite Hall for afternoon tea. Uncle Brian readily agreed, so the booking was made for 2.30pm. Dad said that there was just one condition, that being that I went along too. I was overjoyed when Dad told me.

The day was dry and quite sunny, and mid morning I settled in the car for the journey. Dad drove through the Lake District, by lake Windermere to Ambleside and on, passing the lakes of Rydal, Grasmere and Thirlmere. This latter is a reservoir and due to the lengthy period of dry weather was getting rather low. I had been this way in April, but today the hills were particularly sharply defined, making the journey all the more interesting. I knew that STAG and Dad had climbed most of them, but nevertheless Dad was pointing out and naming them as we went along. I have said before that I am full of admiration of the intrepid nature of STAG to venture into those wild places.

A stop was made in Keswick, that sits under the shadow of the mighty mountain Skiddaw. This was for shopping at the Booths store. Not my scene, so I stayed in the car, watching the buses coming and going. One route goes up the beautiful Borrowdale Valley and then over the steep Honister Pass to Buttermere. These destinations are popular with walkers and visitors, so by the time it departed the small bus was packed with people standing.

So, the shopping done and safely placed in the boot, we made our way to the hotel, taking the road on the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake, below the hill called Dodd, on the slopes of which nest the only pair of ospreys in this area. This year they had raised two chicks.

Arriving we went to reception, and were asked to take a seat while a waiter came to show us to our table. Just then Uncle Brian spotted Anna, the wife of the restaurant manager Prem, and a lively chat followed. When Dad said we had come for afternoon tea, Anna replied that she would be making it for us. We were then shown to our table in the bay window in the lounge, with a wonderful view over the lawns to the lake.

photograph courtesy Uncle Brian

While Uncle Brian and Dad settled in the chairs, I sat on the table to have my picture taken by the welcome card.

photograph courtesy Uncle Brian

While waiting for the tea to arrive, I noticed through the side window that the rhododendrons were in bloom, so I asked Uncle Brian to take a picture. I recalled going on the nature walk with some of my pals in April, and thought that the route down to the lake would look magnificent, now that the rhododendrons are flowering.

photograph courtesy Uncle Brian

Tea was served!

photograph courtesy Uncle Brian

All the food is home made, quite delicious and rather filling too. Uncle Brian and Dad are rarely defeated, so they did not have to resort to having some of the fayre put in a box to take home. Dad kindly shared his with me.

We started on the middle tier. Dainty sandwiches with various fillings, including smoked salmon, ham and cucumber, cream cheese and celery and egg mayonnaise. Fruits - grapes and blackberries, garnished this tier too.

Then we moved on to the lower tier. Here were four home made scones, baked just this morning, one each of cherry, fruit, cinnamon and cheese. Butter, jam and clotted cream was served to accompany them. They were scrumptious.

The raspberry panacotta topped with cream slipped down, with an explosion of flavour.

Finally we tackled the top tier. A scrumptious selection of home made biscuits, tray bakes and cream cakes, again garnished with fresh fruit.

Of course to accompany all this we had tea, in particular 2nd Flush Assam. A full bodied tea, 2nd flush meaning the harvest picked in June only, being known for being particularly smooth. From the picture you can see that it was served in a glass pot with an infuser that was lowered into the water by means of a lever. So that we would know when the tea was ready to drink the waiter placed on the table what we can only describe as a 'tea-timer'.

photograph courtesy Uncle Brian

He said that the green timer was the one for us to watch, and once the grains has run through the tea would be ready and we should lift the infuser out of the water. Uncle Brian, Dad and I had never seen the like before and were quite fascinated. The other timers to the left and right are for White Tea and Black Tea respectively. Dad ran them again after we had finished, and noted that the White Tea took the shortest time and the Black Tea the longest. I think he would quite like to have taken this home, as he is what Uncle Brian describes as a 'tea belly'.

With a feeling of great satisfaction, we then sat conversing quietly and looking out on that wonderful view. I sat cuddling into Dad's arms. It was a wonderful experience, Uncle Brian saying he would like to do this again sometime. Of course I would come along too.

We were so so relaxed, but by now it was nearly 5pm, and time for us to make our way home, so we went to reception to settle the bill.

We returned along the west side of the lake and I looked again in awe at the mountains towering up all around. Whilst STAG tell me all about there adventures, I have no ambitions to climb up there and am quite content to view them from the car.

A memorable day, and I say a big thank you to Uncle Brian for providing all the pictures for my story.

Love and Hugs always




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